Monday, 5 January 2009

Justice for Lilly!

The New York Times is reporting that Barack Obama may quickly take action to implement the Lilly Ledbetter act early in his Presidency. I am really hoping that is true, for a number of reasons.

For those of you not familiar with the case, Lilly Ledbetter worked for decades for lower pay than her male colleagues with identical jobs. One day she received an anonymous tip about the disparity in pay, at which point she sued for discrimination. The case went as far as the Supreme Court, which agreed that she had been subject to discrimination, but argued that she would have had to file suit within 180 days of the first instance of discrimination - i.e., her very first paycheck decades before. This would make it virtually impossible for any woman, or any employee who is unfairly discriminated against, to seek redress for this wrong doing - since employees rarely know the salaries of their colleagues.

It was a silly ruling (surely each subsequent paycheck was a continuing instance of discrimination?) which could have been easily overturned by a congressional clarification of the discrimination laws. In fact, Congress came very close to passing a law that would reopen the right to claim discrimination, but they couldn't get past the obstructionist Republicans in the Senate and their filibuster threat.

We've got more Senators now. And a sympathetic President. Lilly's time may have come.


christine said...

I am glad that Obama has had such a strong female presence in his life. Finally women may be able to make progress with bills like this!!

Anonymous said...

okay, this is ancient

But it's actually a firing offense where I work and, really, anywhere I've worked if we discuss what we make to our coworkers.

You know... employers covering their own asses....