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Senate OKs Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

January 23 2009

The U.S. Senate approved the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act on Thursday. It would change when discrimination claims against employers can be filed. For example, the legislation would allow a worker to sue an employer within 180 days after receiving a discriminatory paycheck. A Supreme Court decision had earlier held the 180-day timeframe began when an initial decision to issue discriminatory pay occurred.

The Associated Press reported the House is expected to act quickly on the act and President Obama is expected to sign it.

It's based on a case involving Lilly Ledbetter, who worked for almost 20 years at a Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company facility in Alabama.

Ledbetter received an anonymous note that she was being paid less than male workers, and ultimately sued with a jury ruling that she had been unlawfully discriminated against on the basis of her gender, according to George Miller's, D-CA, Web site. Miller was the sponsor of a House version of the bill. However, the Supreme Court ruled that Ledbetter had waited too long to sue. Although she had sued within 180 days of receiving a discriminatory paycheck, she hadn't sued within 180 days of the company's decision to give her discriminatory pay, according to the site.

The HR Policy Association, a group of representing human resource officers at 250 of the largest U.S. corporations, said Thursday it was disappointed with the legislation. It said the bill would "eviscerate the statute of limitations for most alleged acts of employment discrimination," and the Supreme Court's Ledbetter decision dealt only with pay. Limiting a bill to a simple reversal of the Ledbetter decision would be less disruptive to the judicial system, according to the HR Policy Association.

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