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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Senate Committee Holds Hearing on Pay Discrimination

Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on pay discrimination entitled, “Barriers to Justice: Examining Equal Pay for Equal Work.” The purpose of the hearing was to highlight the role that the judiciary plays in all of our lives, by either providing recourse for victims of pay discrimination or, as is all too often the case, making it all but impossible for those victims to seek redress in a court of law. Testifying before the committee were two DC based attorneys and Lilly Ledbetter, who made national headlines last year when the Supreme Court threw out her claim in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Rubber & Tire.

While the issue of equal pay has received quite a lot of attention lately, particularly among the Democrats, today’s hearing was only attended by one Republican committee member, Ranking Member Arlen Specter (R-PA). Sen. Specter made an encouraging opening statement expressing his support for the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a bill that would provide a legislative fix to last year’s disastrous Supreme Court decision. Unfortunately, his Republican colleagues seemed unconcerned with the matter.

Still, the hearing proved quite successful, with Ms. Ledbetter eloquently explaining the important role that the courts play in the lives of all Americans. She detailed the absurdity of last year’s Supreme Court decision, stating that it “took a law that was supposed to protect people like [her], and created a loophole that employers can drive a truck through.” She said that “[t]he Senate can restore the promise that the Supreme Court broke…by enacting the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act” and holding politicians accountable for the sorts of judges they appoint. Let’s hoping voters pay attention.

To read Lilly Ledbetter’s entire testimony, check out the Senate Judiciary Committee’s website, here.

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