"Unequal Pay" Bill Blocked In U.S. Senate

The Senate recently failed to break a Republican-led filibuster currently blocking the Fair Pay Restoration Act. The Fair Pay Act would make it easier for people to sue over pay discrimination and is in response to the 2007 Supreme Court ruling that limited such cases. In that case, the Supreme Court ruled that unequal pay claims must be filed within 180 days of the first discriminatory paycheck instead of when the employee discovers the discrepancy. The deadline is specified in Equal Opportunity Commission guidelines and it "protects employers from the burden of defending claims arising from employment decisions long past" Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority in the 5-4 decision.

The bill currently under consideration would have "reset the clock" with every paycheck. In support of this provision, advocates argue that each paycheck is a discriminatory act while opponents contend that the provision was unworkable. For example, the bill -- as currently drafted -- would arguably allow retirees drawing pensions to sue their old companies over allegations of discrimination that occurred several years ago.

Opponents further assert that allowing employees to assert claims going that far back will lead to evidentiary problems because evidence supporting decade-old claims will likely be difficult to obtain.

Although the bill is stalled now, supporters promise to continue their efforts even though President Bush is likely to veto the bill should it pass both the House and Senate. For more information on why the supporters of the Fair Pay Act believe it is necessary, click here. Click here for additional reasons opponents believe the bill is unnecessary.
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