Congressman Jerrold Nadler (NY-08), Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, today held an oversight hearing on the effective enforcement of civil rights laws in light of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Ledbetter v. Goodyear
. That ruling, from earlier this year, departed from prior interpretations of when victims of pay discrimination can file timely charges under Title VII, and negatively impacts civil rights protections for employees.
“In Ledbetter, the Court severely limited the ability of women who are victims of discrimination to seek vindication of their rights as guaranteed under the law,” said Rep. Nadler. “By considering the testimony of our experts and victims – including Ms. Ledbetter herself – I hope that Congress will respond to this decision swiftly and effectively.”
On May 29th, 2007, the Supreme Court interpreted Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – and its 180 day statute of limitations – as running from the date that an employer decides to pay an employee less money rather than each time an employee earns or is paid less money as a result. This ruling ignores the realities of pay discrimination, which is often difficult to detect and accumulates over several years.
Two bills have been introduced to overturn the Ledbetter decision. Following a hearing exploring the impact of the decision, held by the Committee on Education and Labor, Rep. George Miller, Chairman of that Committee, introduced H.R. 2831, The Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2007. Rep. Nadler is a co-sponsor of that bill. Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger has also introduced H.R. 2660, The 2007 Civil Rights Pay Fairness Act.
“Congress must make its intent clear: Anti-discrimination laws must be strengthened – not weakened,” Rep. Nadler added. “Perhaps, as Congress did in 1991, we will have to go back and clarify the law again. If that is necessary, so be it.”