I’ve got three links to share and don’t write a word of commentary unless you read them all.
The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, already passed by the House, would have reinstated the law as it was interpreted by most appellate courts and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, i.e., that every single discriminatory paycheck represents a new act of discrimination and that the 180-day period begins anew with every one. Yet 42 members of the Senate—including Majority Leader Harry Reid, but only procedurally to keep the bill alive—voted to block cloture. How can that be? As Kia Franklin notes here: Women in the United States are paid only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men; African-American women earn only 63 cents, and Latinas earn only 52 cents for every dollar paid to white men. Yet the Ledbetter decision tells employers that as long as they can hide their discriminatory behavior for six months, they’ve got the green light to treat female employees badly forever. Why isn’t this problem sufficiently real to be addressed by Congress?
Do not skip the reasons outlined by Lithwick.
The fact that workers generally have no idea what other people are making when they start a job did not concern the court nearly as much as what Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the majority, called “the burden of defending claims arising from employment decisions that are long past.” In other words, pay discrimination is illegal unless it goes on for more than six months.
Having delivered his objections to the Ledbetter bill this week, McCain went on to tell reporters that what women really need is “education and training, particularly since more and more women are heads of their households, as much or more than anybody else. And it’s hard for them to leave their families when they don’t have somebody to take care of them.”
Maybe George Bush isn’t all that incoherent after all.
Was McCain saying that it’s less important to give working women the right to sue for equal pay than to give them help taking care of their families? There have been many attempts to expand the Family and Medical Leave Act to protect more workers who need to stay home to take care of a sick kid or an ailing parent. “We’ve never gotten his support on any of that agenda,” said Debra Ness, the president of the National Partnership for Women and Families.
We also have yet to hear a McCain policy address on how working mothers are supposed to find quality child care. If it comes, I suspect the women trying to support their kids on $20,000 a year are going to learn they’re in line for some whopping big income-tax deductions.
Third, an NYT article from today called “Not So Personal Finances,” about how, if we are going to ask people about how many orgasms they have, how can we not also ask how much money they make.
Talk about establishing the fact that for the last umpteen decades, it would be nearly impossible for people to learn of unequal pay unless someone slipped or broke the law, this article implies that if sharing orgasm figures is the threshold that needs to be reached in order to feel comfortable in sharing how much you make, there is no wonder that 180 days from when the first instance of discrimination occurs is a completely inadequate statute of limitation.