Support the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 (S. 181) and Vote against Any Amendments

Media 01.21.09

Recipient: U.S. Senate

Dear Senator:

On behalf of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation’s oldest, largest, and most diverse civil and human rights coalition, representing nearly 200 member organizations, we urge you to vote yes on final passage and against any amendments on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 (S. 181), which corrects the Supreme Court’s misinterpretation of Title VII regarding when a pay discrimination claim is timely filed.

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which passed the House of Representatives on January 9, 2009 by a 247-171 margin, will ensure that victims of pay discrimination are able to remedy the harm done to them. The Supreme Court, in its May 29, 2007 Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber decision, upended decades of paycheck discrimination precedent. The Court held that the 180-day statute of limitations for paycheck discrimination claims under Title VII should be calculated from the day a pay decision is made, rather than from when employees are subject to or injured by the decision, such as when they received their most recent paycheck. As a result, victims who did not learn of their discrimination until well after the date their pay rate was set were left without recourse. The Ledbetter decision affected a wide range of discrimination claims, including not only Title VII claims based on race, gender, and religion, but also claims based on disability and age. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act will reinstate the old rule, allowing victims of discrimination to pursue a claim within 180 days of their last paycheck.

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was carefully crafted to simply restore the law of Title VII to the way it was prior to the Supreme Court’s decision. For decades before the decision, the “paycheck accrual rule” was accepted in all the circuits that had addressed the issue and was entirely uncontroversial. All of the amendments offered thus far will make the law weaker than it was prior to the Ledbetter decision. For example, the amendment offered by Senator Hutchison (Amendment No. 25), which is likely to come up first, will allow employers in some cases to engage in ongoing paycheck discrimination without consequences, and will burden paycheck discrimination litigation with protracted disputes over when an employee knew or should have known he or she was suffering from discrimination.

We urge you to vote for final passage on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and against these amendments that will undermine Act’s restoration of Title VII law. Please contact Paul Edenfield, LCCR Counsel and Policy Analyst at 202-263-2852, or Nancy Zirkin at 202-263-2880, if you have any questions.

Wade Henderson, President & CEO
Nancy Zirkin, Executive Vice President