WASHINGTON (Jan. 19, 2009)-The Senate has voted 72-23 to cut off debate and proceed to a vote on the Lilly Ledbetter Act, which would amend Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to make it easier for women and minorities to sue employers for pay discrimination.
The bill is named for Lilly Ledbetter, a retired supervisor at Goodyear's Gadsden, Ala., plant, who sued her employer when she discovered she was being paid 15 percent less than the lowest-paid male supervisor. The suit became a cause celebre, and Ledbetter a hero of the labor movement, particularly after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Ledbetter's suit on the strict letter of the law.
Specifically, the Ledbetter bill makes it clear that each paycheck after an initial act of pay discrimination is a violation of the law under Title VII. This gives women and minorities the right to sue within 180 days of their last paychecks, rather than only the initial paycheck.
A final Senate vote is expected the week of Jan. 19. The bill previously passed the House by a 247-171 margin Jan. 9. An earlier version passed the House in the previous Congress, but failed to reach a vote in the Senate.