Senate Democrats

Senate Democrats Are Working to Provide Equal Pay for Equal Work

The Senate Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act seeks to restore equality in the workplace. The measure in effect reverses the Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire decision handed down by the Supreme Court that said employees can only challenge alleged pay discrimination within 180 days of the first discriminatory act. Unfortunately, many victims may lose their right to challenge discrimination, even as that discrimination continues with each paycheck. In short, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act restores the law to where it was prior to the decision, ensuring all Americans are paid the same wage regardless of their age, gender, race or ethnicity.

Highlights of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act:

  • The Senate Fair Pay Bill Protects Victims of Pay Discrimination. When Congress enacted Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act it was intended to protect victims of pay discrimination on the basis of race, gender, color, national origin, and religion, by focusing on the rights of employees. However, the Supreme Court limited an employee’s right to sue, based on pay discrimination, only if the employee happened to learn of the discrimination within six months of when the employer began discriminating. [S. 181, 2009; National Women’s Law Center, 2007]
  • The Senate Fair Pay Bill Ensures Victims of Pay Discrimination Have a Reasonable Amount of Time to Seek Redress.  The measure starts the clock for filing a pay discrimination claim each time the discriminatory act occurs, rather than when the employer begins to discriminate, as was interpreted by the Supreme Court. As such, each discriminatory paycheck restarts the clock for filing a claim.  As long as workers file their claims within 180 days of a discriminatory paycheck, their charges will be considered timely. [S. 181, 2009]

·        The Senate Fair Pay Bill Retains Current Limits on Employer Liability By Restricting Back Pay Awards to Two Years.  Under the measure, employers would not have to make up for salary differences that occurred decades prior.  Currently, the law limits back pay awards to two years before the worker filed a job discrimination claim under Title VII.  The Senate Fair Pay act would not change this two year limit on back pay. [S. 181, 2009]

  • The Senate Fair Pay Bill Restores Congress’s Original Intent By Restoring the Law To Where It Was Prior to the Ledbetter Decision. The measure restores the law to where it was prior to the Ledbetter decision, by “allow[ing] employees to sue upon any instance of pay discrimination, including whenever they receive a discriminatory paycheck.” [National Women’s Law Center, 2008]