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Senate Republicans block discrimination reform legislation

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a discrimination verdict that awarded compensation to Lilly Ledbetter.  Goodyear had underpaid her for almost two decades, but she didn't learn about the huge gap between her pay and her male co-workers until she was approaching retirement.  The Court's majority interpreted the equal pay statute in such a manner that Ledbetter had to file suit within 180 days of the start of the unequal treatment--even though she knew nothing about it.  Sadly, Senate Republicans rejected a reform measure that had broad support from both parties; it would have given women a limited time to sue after "discovering" that they had been victimized by discrimination.

In a previous entry, you can find full details of the Ledbetter case, including the rationale of the majority and dissenting Justices and confirmation of the facts of the overwhelming discrimination Ms. Ledbetter uncovered.  With almost 20 years of experience as an Area Manager, Ms. Ledbetter was paid less than all 15 of her male counterparts:  She was paid $6,000 per year less than the LOWEST PAID male.  Her supervisor admitted to the jury that during one period, her pay fell below the minimum threshold for position.  One reason why she didn't uncover this discrepancy was that she (and they) were expressly barred by the employer from discussing salary issues. At retirement, (probably a female clerk in personnel!) she learned of the problem when someone left her an anonymous tip.

If you are thinking this is an isolated problem that does not require legislative attention, keep these figures in mind:  Kia Franklin and Dahlia Lithwick report statistics which show that women in the U.S. earn, on average, only 77 percent of what the average man earns for the same work.  Black women earn only 63 percent; hispanic women only 52 percent.  With so many families dependant on two wage earners, and so many more women having to support a family, these kind of numbers doom too many Americans to living in poverty.

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