Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act


1/15/09: In the first legislative victory for working Americans in the 111th Congress, last week the House of Representatives passed HR 11, the NTEU-endorsed “Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.”

Prior to last week’s vote, NTEU contacted each member of the House, asking for support of the Lilly Ledbetter bill. This bill is named for an Alabama woman employed by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. While she was being paid 40% less than her male colleagues doing the same or similar work, the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision ruled that she not did file her complaint in time, namely 180 days after her first shortchanged paycheck. Previously the courts held that workers had 180 days to file a complaint after each instance of receiving a paycheck shortchanged by illegal discrimination.

From our own experience standing up for our members, NTEU knows that the Court set an impossible standard. Employees who are being discriminated against in pay may not even know what pay rates their coworkers earn until years after the initial discriminatory act. That is why NTEU and allied organizations insisted that this standard be changed by Congress so that workers have real protections. We are grateful for the House of Representative’s action in favor of this bill, particularly the leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), and Chairman George Miller (D-CA).

In the last Congress the House also passed this bill but it was blocked by a Senate filibuster and the threat of a presidential veto. As President-elect Barack Obama is a strong supporter of this bill, we no longer need to be concerned about a veto. NTEU will be working with Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and the newly-elected members of the Senate to win passage there.