April 10 2014
One News Now: Obama's 'Paycheck Fairness Act' – a tort lawyer's dream?
Chris Woodward (OneNewsNow.com) Thursday, April 10, 2014
The Obama administration brought in Lilly Ledbetter this week for another push at what the White House calls "equal pay," but one female activist says it's not really about women.
Over the last few years, Ledbetter has become the face of the debate over equal pay. Retiring in 1998 after almost 20 years with the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, she then sued her former employer for paying her less than her male counterparts. The case eventually made it to the Supreme Court, which denied her claim because she didn't file the suit within the time period required under law. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act – which was the first bill signed into law by Barack Obama when he took office on January 29, 2009 – loosened the timeliness requirements for filing a discrimination lawsuit.
Carrie Lukas, managing director at the Independent Women's Forum, says Ledbetter's story is one that tugs on everybody's sympathies.
"Here is a woman who was underpaid for decades and didn't discover it – and then because of a statute of limitations wasn't able to have her day in court until much, much later than is ideal," explains Lukas. "But it's important for people to understand what the Lily Ledbetter Act is about and how the Democrats continue to push in one direction – and that's to facilitate lawsuits."
Lukas tells OneNewsNow it may have been appropriate to examine the need to extend the statute of limitations on when someone can proceed with suing an employer, but she believes the Obama administration is now pushing the Paycheck Fairness Act so that people can sue decades after an initial compensation decision was made.
"That's long after the relevant parties have likely moved on, and some may even have died," she points out. "It really makes justice hard – and that's what the Paycheck Fairness Act is also about. It's about increasing the number of lawsuits out there by ... making it easier for lawyers to have class-action lawsuits. I don't think most Americans think that the solution to our economic woes is more litigation."
IWF argues the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 2199) won't advance "equal pay" for women but, in fact, would "simply pad the pockets of trial lawyers, who are positioned to be the real winners of this law."
A related article this week by Jennifer Gilhool in Forbes Woman says Ledbetter's return to the White House was "more ceremony without substance."