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Ledbetter Act without the Paycheck Fairness Act = A nice car without wheels

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Dearest Conflucians,  our great MadamaB left a comment in DakiniKat’s Madelin Laundries post yesterday:

madamab, on January 29th, 2009 at 5:26 pm Said:

Kat – Amazingly, Senate Democrats gave away the Paycheck Fairness Act in order to get the Lilly Ledbetter Act. Can you believe this sh*t? And no one is talking about it.

Link

Everything he does, you have to ask “what’s the catch?”

Some in Obama-lala-land (I will not link, but you know the cult sites) are claiming that we should just STFU and be happy that Obama is throwing us a bone with the Ledbetter Act – actually, they make it out to be Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s all rolled up into one.

But there’s a problem.  Here an excerpt pointing out the differences between the two:

Rather, the Court held that when an employer issues paychecks pursuant to a pay system that is facially nondiscriminatory and neutrally applied, the mere fact that such paychecks may give present effect to past discrimination occurring outside the charging period is insufficient to restart the statute of limitations.  The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act expressly overturns this decision and provides that every paycheck continues a distinct discriminatory practice. Such a rule virtually eliminates the statute of limitations on some pay discrimination claims. Indeed, current employees – and even retirees who still receive pay or benefits – could conceivably file lawsuits based on discriminatory practices that occurred decades earlier, provided such plaintiffs could link their claims to compensation received within the statute of limitations. The Ledbetter Fair Pay Act would apply to pay discrimination claims brought under Title VII, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act.

The Paycheck Fairness Act, which amends the Equal Pay Act, also targets unequal pay practices through a number of provisions.

  • The bill increases the potential damages for EPA claims by allowing the recovery of unlimited compensatory and punitive damages.
  • It eliminates a key affirmative defense. Employers currently can defend EPA claims by proving they based their compensation decisions on “any factor other than sex.” The Paycheck Fairness Act replaces this defense with the “bona fide factor other than sex” defense, which only applies if the employer demonstrates the decision-making factor: (a) is not based upon or derived from a sex-based differential in compensation; (b) is job-related with respect to the position in question; and (c) is consistent with business necessity. But, this defense would not apply if the employee establishes the employer refused to adopt an alternative employment practice serving the same business purpose that would not create a pay differential.
  • The bill prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who discuss their compensation with co-workers.
  • It expressly permits class actions wherein similarly situated employees who do not wish to participate in the action would have to “opt out” of the action. This is an expansion because employees must presently “opt in” to collective actions under the EPA.

I’m no labor attorney, nor a politician, nor a law scholar (paging Heidi Li Feldman!), just a laid-off Juanita Lunchbucket who wants equal pay for equal work so I can earn my arroz and habichuelas just like the guy/gal in my same position and experience.

Help me understand this if I’m wrong:  the Paycheck Fairness Act enforces and strengthens unequal pay claims while the Ledbetter Act just buys the claimant more time.  Is that right? If that’s the case, it’s a another bamboozle by the Bamboozler -in-Chief.

Here’s what the NYT says (again, h/t MadamaB):

After signing the corrective measure, Mr. Obama ought to press Congress to continue the fight for equal pay for equal work by passing a second bill — the Paycheck Fairness Act — that would further strengthen current laws against gender-based wage discrimination. Among other things, this bill, which Mr. Obama co-sponsored while in the Senate, would make stronger remedies available under the existing Equal Pay Act; ensure that courts require employers to show that wage disparities are job-related, not sex-based, and consistent with business needs; and protect employees who discuss salary information from retaliation.

These changes may not please some business interests. But women still make, on average, only 78 cents for every dollar earned by men for performing substantially the same work. To narrow that yawning wage gap, tighter rules are plainly in order.

The House, to its credit, passed both bills. But Democratic leaders in the Senate peeled off the Paycheck Fairness Act after determining that pairing the two measures could jeopardize the chamber’s approval of the more familiar Ledbetter bill.

The new president can play a useful role in helping to rally Senate Democrats not to rest on their Ledbetter laurels and to persuade Republicans to come on board. In the House, only three Republicans voted in favor of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. In the Senate, five did. By now, Republican opposition to civil rights and pay equity is not surprising. That makes it all the sadder.

(ACK!!!!!!!  Here they go again with the damn blame shifting?  Obama doesn’t NEED Republican support, he has Congress & House!)

And without the Paycheck Fairness Act, Ledbetter Act is just garnish, IMHO. It’s like being sold a car without wheels.   Ledbetter allows 180 day extension on every paycheck that was allegedly discriminated due to pay, but without the Paycheck Fairness Act, women have no increased protection against wage discrimination – and it will make it harder for women to sue an employer who is discriminating.

UPDATE for the PUMA paparazzi stalkers: If Obama co-endorsed the Paycheck Fairness act as a senator, what’s stopping him from signing it into law – from forcing the Senate to vote on behalf of the Paycheck Fairness Act like Obama did to House Democrats when he ordered them to drop the Family Planning Provision?:

Democratic Leaders Likely To Remove Family Planning Provision From Economic Stimulus Proposal

President Obama has asked House Democrats to cut a provision of their economic stimulus proposal that would give states more flexibility to expand Medicaid coverage of family planning services, the AP/Austin American-Statesman reports. According to the AP/American-Statesman, several Democratic officials said that House leaders likely would abandon the provision at Obama’s request, which was made “at a time when the administration is courting Republican critics of the legislation.” A final decision is expected on Tuesday, when Obama is scheduled to meet separately with House and Senate Republicans.

Why sell us a car without the wheels?  What good is it?

And if we don’t fight for the whole enchilada,  healthcare, equal pay, equal rights, voter rights, civil rights, etc.,  we’ll be fed kibbles and bits worth sold to us  as Equality filet mignon.

Equality is not something you can fragment into pieces.  Either we have equal rights, or we don’t.  And guess what?  WE DON’T.

If women want any rights more than they’s got, why don’t they just take them, and not be talking about it.


Sojourner Truth

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