Meet Lilly Ledbetter. She's A Good Reason To Vote Against John McCain

Illustration for article titled Meet Lilly Ledbetter. Shes A Good Reason To Vote Against John McCain

Lilly Ledbetter, pictured here with Hillary Clinton yesterday, got totally screwed by the Supreme Court. And now she's being screwed by the Senate. You see, Lilly was a supervisor for an Alabama Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. She was being paid less than every single one of the male supervisors: 15% less than the lowest paid male supervisors and 40% less than the highest paid. Lilly had no idea that she was being stiffed by her bosses, because in her contract she had agreed not to discuss her salary with anyone outside of her family. An anonymous coworker slipped her a note, telling her she was being cheated, and so Lilly decided to sue Goodyear for the discrimination. A lower court awarded Ledbetter $3.8 million, but the Supreme Court overturned the decision — because she didn't file the claim within 180 days of her first unfair paycheck (though there was absolutely no way she could have known she was making less at that point).


As a result of that patent unfairness, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was put before the Senate yesterday. And it was voted down, 56-42. By a Republican filibuster. And John McCain didn't even bother to show up to vote.

The Ledbetter Act would have allowed people more than 180 days to file claims against their employers, and, according to U.S. News and World Report, "It would have each discriminatory paycheck trigger a new claim-filing period, that is, another 180-day window in which to file a case with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission." McCain, however, is against it because, according to the Daily Kos, McCain is "all in favor of pay equity for women, but this kind of legislation, as is typical of what's being proposed by my friends on the other side of the aisle, opens us up to lawsuits for all kinds of problems...This is government playing a much, much greater role in the business of a private enterprise system."


As Kos points out, "Pay discrimination is already illegal. This legislation would have fixed a bad [Supreme Court] decision that severely limited the ability of workers to hold their employers accountable for breaking the law." Both Obama and Clinton voted in favor of the Ledbetter Act.

The fact that this Act was voted down in the first place makes me want to vomit, but it's especially depressing if you read Ruth Bader Ginsberg's dissenting opinion in the Supreme Court case. Ginsberg, of course, was one of four judges who voted in favor of Ledbetter, and she wrote, "The jury also heard testimony that another supervisor—who evaluated Ledbetter in 1997 and whose evaluation led to her most recent raise denial—was openly biased against women...And two women who had previously worked as managers at the plant told the jury they had been subject to pervasive discrimination and were paid less than their male counterparts. One was paid less than the men she supervised...Ledbetter herself testified about the discriminatory animus conveyed to her by plant officials. Toward the end of her career, for instance, the plant manager told Ledbetter that the 'plant did not need women, that [women] didn't help it, [and] caused problems.'"

What the fuck. On a micro level, Lilly Ledbetter got completely fucked over. On a macro one, Republicans don't give a shit about anyone but CEOs. I'm just as baffled about this as Nevada Senator Harry Reid, who said, "I don't know how anyone would oppose something like this. It just makes sense that people should be treated fairly."

Equal Work, Unequal Pay [US News And World Report]
Republicans Defeat Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act [Daily Kos]
Lilly Ledbetter v. The Goodyear Tire And Rubber Company [Cornell]
Equal Pay Isn't A Partisan Issue. Is it? [Time]

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I'm sure Hillary supports Ms. Ledbetter because Sen. Clinton has become something of a feminist icon and though there are accusations against Walmart, there's also a lot of other stuff behind that story and I really see no reason to try and tar Hillary in a post about something else. (Though, since you did sort of bring it up, I would like to caution people against attacking Walmart as an entity and not just on issues because come November, the Dems are going to need the votes of Walmart shoppers. After all, they're the majority of this country's population)

Otherwise, as for the ideological breakdown of Supreme Court decisions and their pro-business slant, I thought that I'd throw out a link to David E. Kelley's, James Spader rant before the "Supreme Court" from Tuesday's Boston Legal. You have to fast-forward to 3:20 to get to the court-specific stuff and there's not a lot there that isn't known by court watchers, but as always, the delivery is delicious.

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