The Senate Judiciary Committee today held a hearing, "Barriers to Justice: Examining Equal Pay for Equal Work," featuring testimony from Lilly Ledbetter, whose wage discrimination suit against Goodyear Rubber and Tire made it all the way to the Supreme Court in 2007. (Ledbetter v. Goodyear opinion here.) As we've noted previously, she has become an active supporter of Barack Obama's presidential campaign -- featured in anti-McCain ads -- and a symbol of grievance for labor and women's groups.
Eric Dreiband of Jones Day was originally scheduled to testify, but it appears that the business community was instead represented by Lawrence Lorber of Proskauer Rose. In his testimony, Lorber addresses H.R. 1338, the Paycheck Fairness Act, recent employment law cases before the Supreme Court, and the harm that class-action lawsuits cause in employment law. The final point: "The Class Action Is Neither An Appropriate Nor An Effective Mechanism For The Resolution of Statutor Employment Discrimination Claims." His conclusion:
[While] while the class action is intended to provide an effective and efficient mechanism to resolve legal claims held by numerous litigants, the mechanism has devolved into a moneymaking tool (albeit a very effective money-making tool) for plaintiff's attorneys. The settlement of large nation-wide class actions often results in attorney fee awards in the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars, while providing little relief to the class members. Used in this manner, the class action fails to provide justice for victims of discrimination. Instead, it makes a mockery of the equal employment opportunity laws. Congress should put a stop to this by enacting legislation to clarify the standards that govern employment discrimination class actions.
And the prepared statements...