Anna Eshoo

Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 - Jan. 9, 2009

Anna Eshoo
January 09, 2009— U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, DC
Congressional floor speech
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Madam Speaker, I rise today to express my strong support for H.R. 11, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. I salute the extraordinary work of Chairman Miller and Congresswoman DeLauro to bring these important bills to the floor today.

Lilly Ledbetter worked for nearly 20 years at a Goodyear Tire and Rubber facility in Alabama. After 20 years, she received an anonymous note alerting her to pay discrimination against her. She learned that she was the lowest-paid supervisor at the plant, despite having more experience than many of her male counterparts. For 20 years she worked hard and played by the rules only to be paid less and treated unfairly. She then sued Goodyear for pay discrimination. A jury of her peers found that her employer had unlawfully discriminated against her on the basis of sex and awarded her back pay. Her case was appealed and reached the Supreme Court which held that Ledbetter had waited too long to sue for pay discrimination, despite the fact that she filed a charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as soon as she received the anonymous note. The Supreme Court said that under Federal fair pay laws a person must file a discrimination claim within 180 days of the first violation.

Today our opponents will say that this bill is a trial lawyer's dream and that it will bring unnecessary litigation. This is simply not true. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act restores the law as it was prior to the Supreme Court's decision. Prior law was fair and worked. Before the Court's ruling, the law was clear--every discriminatory paycheck was a new violation of the law that restarted the clock for filing a claim. Under the Supreme Court's ruling, the Ledbetter decision allows employers to escape responsibility by keeping their discrimination hidden and running out the clock.

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act clarifies that each new paycheck resulting from a discriminatory pay decision constitutes a new violation of employment nondiscrimination law. As long as a worker files a charge within 180 days of a discriminatory paycheck, the charge would be considered timely.

This is what the law was and what it should be going forward. I'm very proud to support this bill and I urge a ``yes'' vote on the underlying legislation.

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