Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Lilly Ledbetter Sue-For-Anything Act

Obama's first signed bill was the sickly named Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Instead of actually accomplishing something for fair pay, the act says "that the 180-day statute of limitations for pay discrimination resets with each new discriminatory paycheck".

Basically, as long as you think you're being discriminated against through pay, your lawyers have all the time in the world to harass and sue your employer.

What hasn't got out in the media is this (from Stuart Taylor Jr. of National Journal Magazine):

First, Ledbetter waited more than five years after learning that she was paid substantially less than most male co-workers to file her Title VII claim for back pay, compensatory, and punitive damages. Second, by that time a key supervisor -- whom she belatedly accused of holding down her pay raises after she rejected his sexual advances -- had died. Third, Ledbetter chose not to pursue a claim under the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which has a much longer time limit (three years) than Title VII but does not (yet) provide for big-bucks damage awards.

Fourth, her years of poor performance evaluations, plus repeated layoffs that affected her eligibility for raises, convinced a federal magistrate judge (although not the jury) that her relatively low pay did not prove sex discrimination. Maybe Ledbetter was a victim of discrimination, as the jury found. Maybe not. The evidence is too stale to allow for a confident conclusion -- which is one reason the justices ruled against her.

Goes to show that if you cry hard enough, you'll get what you want. Though such a tactic is usually saved for infants.

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