Pay Discrimination Bill Blocked in the Senate

April 24, 2008—The Fair Pay Restoration Act was brought to the Senate floor on Wednesday, April 23 with supporters of the bill attempted to invoke cloture (to end debate on the bill and force a vote) but the vote on cloture failed.

Under the Fair Pay Restoration Act, a discriminatory-compensation decision, or other practice that is unlawful, occurs each time compensation is paid pursuant to the discriminatory compensation decision or other practice.  In other words, the bill would restart the clock for filing a discrimination lawsuit each time an employee received a paycheck that may be lower because of a discriminatory action that happened perhaps decades earlier.

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D. N.Y.) and Sen. Barak Obama (D. Ill.) returned to Washington for the vote and voted to end debate. Sen. John McCain (R. Ariz.) did not vote. Opponents of the bill argued that it was overbroad and unnecessary. The bill stems from the Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire Co. case decided in 2007, in which Lilly Ledbetter’s discrimination claim was denied due to it being filed beyond the statutory deadline.

The White House has indicated that President Bush will veto the bill if it reaches his desk. On April 22, the president’s Office of Management and Budget issued a statement indicating, “The Administration supports our nation’s anti-discrimination laws and is committed to the timely resolution of discrimination claims. For this and other reasons, the Administration strongly opposes the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2007. H.R. 2831 would allow employees to bring a claim of pay or other employment-related discrimination years or even decades after the alleged discrimination occurred. H.R. 2831 constitutes a major change in, and expanded application of, employment discrimination law. The change would serve to impede justice and undermine the important goal of having allegations of discrimination expeditiously resolved. Furthermore, the effective elimination of any statute of limitations in this area would be contrary to the centuries-old notion of a limitations period for all lawsuits.”

Click here, to see how your senator voted.