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Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009
US-GreatSeal-Obverse.svg
Enacted by the 111th United States Congress
Effective January 29, 2009
Citations
Public Law 111-2
Stat. 123 Stat. 5 (2009)
Codification
Act(s) amended Civil Rights Act of 1964, Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
Title(s) amended 29, 42
Legislative history
Major amendments

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 is an Act of Congress enacted by the 111th United States Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama on January 29, 2009.

The bill amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 stating that the 180-day statute of limitations for filing an equal-pay lawsuit regarding pay discrimination resets with each new discriminatory paycheck. The law was a direct answer to the Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 550 U.S. 618 (2007), a U.S. Supreme Court decision holding that the statute of limitations for presenting an equal-pay lawsuit begins at the date the pay was agreed upon, not at the date of the most recent paycheck, as a lower court had ruled.

A first bill to amend the statutory limitations period and supersede the Ledbetter decision was introduced in the 110th United States Congress but was never enacted, as after having been passed by the House it failed to survive a cloture vote in the Senate due to the opposition of most of the Republican Senators.

During the campaign for the 2008 elections, the Democrats criticized Republicans for defeating the 2007 version of the bill, citing Republican presidential candidate John McCain's opposition. Then-candidate Barack Obama supported the bill.[1]

A new version of the bill was eventually re-introduced in the first session of the 111th United States Congress, obtaining this time the necessary support to pass cloture. The bill was then brought to the attention of the President and became the first act of congress signed by the new President Obama since his assumption of office on January 20.

Contents

Court rulings

The antecedents of the case were posed when Lilly Ledbetter, a production supervisor at a Goodyear tire plant in Alabama, filed an equal-pay lawsuit regarding pay discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, six months before her early retirement in 1998. The courts gave opposite verdicts, first supporting the complainant and later opposing; in conclusion the complainant brought the case to the attention of the Supreme Court. The latter ruled in 2007 by a 5-4 majority vote that Ledbetter's complaint was time-barred because the discriminatory decisions relating to pay had been made more than 180 days prior to the date she filed her charge, as explained by Justice Samuel Alito. The minority position explained by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg proposed an interpretation according to which the law runs from the date of any paycheck that contains an amount affected by a prior discriminatory pay decision.[2]

The Ledbetter decision was cited by federal judges in 300 cases before the LLFPA was passed. These cases involved not only Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, but also the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Fair Housing Act, Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act and Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.[3]

The case had never received much attention before going to the Supreme Court, but the Court's ruling ignited legal groups on the left and Democrats that took action to transform the Ledbetter case into a rallying issue for the left, having activists seen in the figure of the complainant an ideal standard-bearer in their attempt to persuade the public that the Supreme Court was moving too far to the right.[4]

Among the first to criticize the Court's decision was Marcia Greenberger, president of the National Women's Law Center, that saw in the ruling a "setback for women and a setback for civil rights" and called Ginsburg's opinion a "clarion call to the American people that this slim majority of the court is headed in the wrong direction." On the other side, the majority's findings were applauded by the US Chamber of Commerce, that called it a "fair decision" that "eliminates a potential wind-fall against employers by employees trying to dredge up stale pay claims."[5]

First bill

Ledbetter speaks during the second day of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado.

The House Democrats were fast to react, coming out on June 12 against the Court. Claiming lead from Justice Ruth Ginsburg's minority opinion, which invited the Congress to take action by amending the law, the Democrats announced their intention to intervene: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller said that a bill was to be passed to avoid future court rulings in line with Ledbetter, clearly putting that "a key provision of the legislation will make it clear that discrimination occurs not just when the decision to discriminate is made, but also when someone becomes subject to that discriminatory decision, and when they are affected by that discriminatory decision, including each time they are issued a discriminatory paycheck", as said by Rep. Miller.[6]

Republicans immediately opposed the bill as drafted, with Education and Labor Committee ranking member Howard McKeon raising the issue that business executives would be held liable for actions taken by managers who weren't leading the company anymore: "At the end of the day, such a loophole conceivably could allow a retiring employee to seek damages against a company now led by executives who had nothing to do with the initial act of discrimination".[6]

The issue proved contentious also among lawyers: while the American Bar Association passed a resolution supporting the new bill, others such as Neal Mollen, argued that extending the term limit would put a strain on the chances of an adequate defense for the employers, as to defend themselves one "has to rely on documents and the memory of individuals, and neither of those is permanent. If a disappointed employee can wait for many years before raising a claim of discrimination ... he or she can wait out the employer, that is ensure that the employer effectively unable to offer any meaningful defense to the claim".[4][6]

Legislative history

President Obama signing the Act into law; to his right is the new law’s namesake, Lilly Ledbetter

The bill (H.R. 2831 and S. 1843) was defeated in April 2008 by Republicans in the Senate who cited the possibility of frivolous lawsuits in their opposition of the bill[7] and criticized Democrats for refusing to allow compromises.[8]

The bill was re-introduced in the 111th Congress (as H.R. 11 and S. 181) in January 2009. It passed in the House of Representatives with 247 votes in support and 171 against.[9] The vote was nearly perfectly split along party lines, with only three Republicans voting in favor (Ed Whitfield of Kentucky, Don Young of Alaska and Chris Smith of New Jersey) and two Democrats voting nay (Travis Childers of Mississippi and Parker Griffith of Alabama). The Senate voted 72 to 23 to invoke cloture on S. 181 on January 15, 2009.[10] (The vote to invoke cloture ends debate on a bill, and usually leads to a final vote within a few days.) The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act passed the Senate, 61-36, on January 22, 2009. The votes in favor included every Democratic senator (except Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, who was absent from the vote because of health issues) and five Republican senators.[11]

As president, Obama actively supported the bill. The official White House blog said:

President Obama has long championed this bill and Lilly Ledbetter's cause, and by signing it into law, he will ensure that women like Ms. Ledbetter and other victims of pay discrimination can effectively challenge unequal pay.[12]

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced that the House would vote on S.181 (the bill passed by the Senate) during the week of January 26, getting the bill to President Obama's desk sooner rather than later. On January 27, the House passed S.181 by a 250-177 margin.

On January 29, Obama signed the bill into law. It was the first act he signed as president, and it fulfilled his campaign pledge to nullify Ledbetter v. Goodyear.[13] However, the fact that he signed it only two days after it was passed by the House brought him under criticism from papers such as the St. Petersburg Times which mentioned his campaign promise to give the public five days of notice to comment on legislation before he signed it. The White House through a spokesman answered that they would be "implementing this policy in full soon", and that currently they were "working through implementation procedures and some initial issues with the congressional calendar".[14]

References

  1. ^ Corey Dade (August 31, 2008). "Obama’s First Shot at Palin Focuses on Equal Pay". The Wall Street Journal. http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2008/08/31/obamas-first-shot-at-palin-focuses-on-equal-pay/. 
  2. ^ Grossman, Joanna (February 13, 2009). "The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009: President Obama's First Signed Bill Restores Essential Protection Against Pay Discrimination". Writ. http://writ.news.findlaw.com/grossman/20090213.html. Retrieved March 15, 2009. 
  3. ^ Pear, Robert (January 5, 2009). "Justices' Ruling in Discrimination Case May Draw Quick Action by Obama". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/05/us/politics/05rights.html. Retrieved March 21, 2009. 
  4. ^ a b Barnes, Robert (September 5, 2007). "Exhibit A in Painting Court as Too Far Right". Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/04/AR2007090401900.html. Retrieved March 15, 2009. 
  5. ^ Barnes, Robert (September 5, 2007). "Over Ginsburg's Dissent, Court Limits Bias Suits". Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/29/AR2007052900740.html. Retrieved March 15, 2009. 
  6. ^ a b c Holland, Jesse J. (June 12, 2007). "House Dems Target Court's Pay Ruling". Associated Press (Time). http://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1632164,00.html. Retrieved March 22, 2009. 
  7. ^ "Republican Senators Block Pay Discrimination Measure". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/24/washington/24cong.html?_r=2&sq=&oref=slogin. 
  8. ^ "Senate Republicans Block Pay Disparity Measure". Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/23/AR2008042301553.html. 
  9. ^ "House Passes 2 Measures on Job Bias". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/10/us/10rights.html?hp. 
  10. ^ Senate roll call vote 4, 111th Congress, 1st Session
  11. ^ U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 111th Congress - 1st Session
  12. ^ "Now Comes Lilly Ledbetter". Whitehouse.gov blog. January 25, 2009. http://www.whitehouse.gov/now-comes-lilly-ledbetter/. 
  13. ^ http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28910789/
  14. ^ "Barack Obama Campaign Promise No. 234: Allow 5 Days of Public Comment Before Signing Bills". St. Petersburg Times. February 4, 2009. http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/promises/promise/234/allow-five-days-of-public-comment-before-signing-b/. 

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

Public Law 111-2
by the 111th Congress of the United States
Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009
Pub.L. 111−2, 123 Stat. 5, S. 181, enacted January 29, 2009.
The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 passed the House of Representatives on January 9, 2009 by a vote of 247-171 and the Senate on January 22, 2009 by a vote of 61-36 (56[D]/5[R] for, 39[R] against), and was signed into law by President Barack Obama on January 29, 2009.
Note: This is the original legislation as it was initially enacted. Like many laws, this statute may have since been amended once or many times, and the text contained herein may no longer be legally current. Follow the interlinks within the content or check to see What Links Here for more.


111TH UNITED STATES CONGRESS
1ST SESSION

An Act

To amend title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, and to modify the operation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, to clarify that a discriminatory compensation decision or other practice that is unlawful under such Acts occurs each time compensation is paid pursuant to the discriminatory compensation decision or other practice, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

Contents

Section 1. Short Title.

This title may be cited as the ``Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009´´.

Sec. 2. Findings.

Congress finds the following:
(1) The Supreme Court in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 550 U.S. 618 (2007), significantly impairs statutory protections against discrimination in compensation that Congress established and that have been bedrock principles of American law for decades. The Ledbetter decision undermines those statutory protections by unduly restricting the time period in which victims of discrimination can challenge and recover for discriminatory compensation decisions or other practices, contrary to the intent of Congress.
(2) The limitation imposed by the Court on the filing of discriminatory compensation claims ignores the reality of wage discrimination and is at odds with the robust application of the civil rights laws that Congress intended.
(3) With regard to any charge of discrimination under any law, nothing in this Act is intended to preclude or limit an aggrieved person's right to introduce evidence of an unlawful employment practice that has occurred outside the time for filing a charge of discrimination.
(4) Nothing in this Act is intended to change current law treatment of when pension distributions are considered paid.

Sec. 3. Discrimination in Compensation Because of Race, Color, Religion, Sex, or National Origin.

Section 706(e) of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2000e-5(e)) is amended by adding at the end the following:
``(3)(A) For purposes of this section, an unlawful employment practice occurs, with respect to discrimination in compensation in violation of this title, when a discriminatory compensation decision or other practice is adopted, when an individual becomes subject to a discriminatory compensation decision or other practice, or when an individual is affected by application of a discriminatory compensation decision or other practice, including each time wages, benefits, or other compensation is paid, resulting in whole or in part from such a decision or other practice.
``(B) In addition to any relief authorized by section 1977A of the Revised Statutes (42 U.S.C. 1981a), liability may accrue and an aggrieved person may obtain relief as provided in subsection (g)(1), including recovery of back pay for up to two years preceding the filing of the charge, where the unlawful employment practices that have occurred during the charge filing period are similar or related to unlawful employment practices with regard to discrimination in compensation that occurred outside the time for filing a charge.´´.

Sec. 4. Discrimination in Compensation Because of Age.

Section 7(d) of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (29 U.S.C. 626(d)) is amended—
(1) in the first sentence—
(A) by redesignating paragraphs (1) and (2) as subparagraphs (A) and (B), respectively; and
(B) by striking ``(d)´´ and inserting ``(d)(1)´´;
(2) in the third sentence, by striking ``Upon´´ and inserting the following:
``(2) Upon´´; and
(3) by adding at the end the following:
``(3) For purposes of this section, an unlawful practice occurs, with respect to discrimination in compensation in violation of this Act, when a discriminatory compensation decision or other practice is adopted, when a person becomes subject to a discriminatory compensation decision or other practice, or when a person is affected by application of a discriminatory compensation decision or other practice, including each time wages, benefits, or other compensation is paid, resulting in whole or in part from such a decision or other practice.´´.

Sec. 5. Application to Other Laws.

(a) Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990.—
The amendments made by section 3 shall apply to claims of discrimination in compensation brought under title I and section 503 of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 12111 et seq., 12203), pursuant to section 107(a) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 12117(a)), which adopts the powers, remedies, and procedures set forth in section 706 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2000e-5).
(b) Rehabilitation Act of 1973.—
The amendments made by section 3 shall apply to claims of discrimination in compensation brought under sections 501 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 791, 794), pursuant to—
(1) sections 501(g) and 504(d) of such Act (29 U.S.C. 791(g), 794(d)), respectively, which adopt the standards applied under title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 for determining whether a violation has occurred in a complaint alleging employment discrimination; and
(2) paragraphs (1) and (2) of section 505(a) of such Act (29 U.S.C. 794a(a)) (as amended by subsection (c)).
(c) Conforming Amendments.—
(1) Rehabilitation Act of 1973.—
Section 505(a) of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 794a(a)) is amended—
(A) in paragraph (1), by inserting after ``(42 U.S.C. 2000e-5 (f) through (k))´´ the following: ``(and the application of section 706(e)(3) (42 U.S.C. 2000e-5(e)(3)) to claims of discrimination in compensation)´´; and
(B) in paragraph (2), by inserting after ``1964´´ the following: ``(42 U.S.C. 2000d et seq.) (and in subsection (e)(3) of section 706 of such Act (42 U.S.C. 2000e-5), applied to claims of discrimination in compensation)´´.
(2) Civil Rights Act of 1964.—
Section 717 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2000e-16) is amended by adding at the end the following:
``(f) Section 706(e)(3) shall apply to complaints of discrimination in compensation under this section.´´.
(3) Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.—
Section 15(f) of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (29 U.S.C. 633a(f)) is amended by striking ``of section´´ and inserting ``of sections 7(d)(3) and´´.

Sec. 6. Effective Date.

This Act, and the amendments made by this Act, take effect as if enacted on May 28, 2007 and apply to all claims of discrimination in compensation under title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq.), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (29 U.S.C. 621 et seq.), title I and section 503 of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and sections 501 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, that are pending on or after that date.


Approved January 29, 2009.

Legislative History

  • S. 181, (H.R. 11)
    • HOUSE REPORTS:
      • No. 111-5 (Comm. on Rules)
    • CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, Vol. 155 (2009):
      • Jan. 15, 21, 22, considered and passed Senate.
      • Jan. 27, considered and passed House.
    • DAILY COMPILATION OF PRESIDENTIAL DOCUMENTS (2009):
      • Jan. 29, Presidential remarks.
PD-icon.svg This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).

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