Rep. Rubén Hinojosa voted to approve legislation that would reverse a Supreme Court ruling that make it more difficult for Americans to pursue pay discrimination claims. The legislation was among the first to be considered and passed by the 111th Congress.

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act would clarify that every paycheck or other compensation resulting from an earlier discriminatory pay decision constitutes a violation of the Civil Rights Act. As long as workers file their charges within 180 days of a discriminatory paycheck, their charges would be considered timely. This was the law prior to the Supreme Court’s May 2007 decision.

“This is a fundamental issue of equal rights,” said Rep. Hinojosa (D-TX). “You should not be paid less because you are a woman. You should not be treated differently because of the color of your skin or your religious beliefs.”

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act would apply to workers who file claims of discrimination on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin, religion, age, or disability.

Lilly Ledbetter worked for nearly 20 years at a Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. She sued the company after learning that she was paid less then her male counterparts at the facility, despite having more experience than several of them. A jury found that her employer had unlawfully discriminated against her on the basis of sex.

However, the Supreme Court said 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 an anonymous note alerting her to pay discrimination.

While Ledbetter filed her charge within 180 days of receiving discriminatory pay, the court ruled that, since Ledbetter did not raise a claim within 180 days of the employer’s decision to pay her less, she could not receive any relief.

- Staff Report