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Hans Bader on Ledbetter/PFA

Legislate in haste, repent at leisure:

The trial lawyers will score another major victory [Friday], by obtaining House passage of two bills backed by Obama that will greatly expand the ability to sue employers. One, the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act , would effectively get rid of the statute of limitations in pay discrimination cases. The other, the Paycheck Fairness Act , would pressure some employers to pay people performing different jobs with very different working conditions the same pay , if the different jobs are predominantly held by different sexes, and the different jobs are deemed comparable based on specified statutory criteria.

Supporters of these bills have relied heavily on false claims about what the Supreme Court held in its Ledbetter decision, which did not adopt, as the bills' supporters claim, a rigid 180-day deadline for bringing pay discrimination cases . (There is a 3-year deadline under the Equal Pay Act , and the 180-day deadline under Title VII, which is simply one alternative avenue for bringing wage discrimination claims, is not rigid , but is subject to equitable "tolling "). False attacks on opponents of the bill were a staple of the 2008 presidential campaign, which featured TV ads from Obama, and mass mailings by state Democratic Parties, falsely claiming that McCain backed wage discrimination against women , simply because he did not support these two bills. Amazingly, the McCain campaign did almost nothing to counter those attacks.

We've often noted the press's lack of curiosity about the interaction between the Equal Pay Act and the issue the Court faced in Ledbetter. More today from a WSJ editorial.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.