House Passes NAACP-Supported Anti-Wage Discrimination Legislation

NAACP Urges Senate to Pass Bill upon Return From Labor Day Break

The Issue:

On May 29, 2007, the US Supreme Court handed down a problematic decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., in which the Court held that an action for pay discrimination under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin or sex must be brought within 180 days of the initial discriminatory pay decision.  This means that an individual who is receiving less pay for equal work due to his or her race, ethnic background, gender or age, must file a lawsuit within 180 days of his or her first discriminatory paycheck in order for the suit to be considered by the courts.

This ruling ignores the fact that individuals who are receiving less pay often do not realize that they are being discriminated against in the first three months.  Nor does it take into account the fact that oftentimes an individual is able to determine discrimination only after several months (and sometimes even years).

To address the errors of the Supreme Court decision (and to reinstitute the original intent of Congress in the 1964 Civil Rights Act), the US House of Representatives passed, on July 31, H.R. 2831, the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2007 by a margin of 225 to 199.  Under this legislation, an individual may file a discrimination suit against an employer (or former employer) within 180 days of the end of his or her employment.    The bill is now in the Senate, where it joins companion legislation introduced by Senator Edward Kennedy (MA), S. 1843. 

We must urge the Senate to pass H.R. 2831 / S. 1843 in order to restore the ability of victims of pay discrimination to obtain effective remedies.