Kia Franklin

Lilly Ledbetter at DNC today…

(Updated at 7:50pm) Today's a big day. 88 years ago today, the Secretary of State certified the ratification of the 19th amendment, granting women's suffrage. And four years ago, President Bush named today Women's Equality Day. Now, tonight at 7pm mountain time, we'll hear from the dynamic ordinary-citizen-turned-activist, Lilly Ledbetter, who is famous for suing Goodyear for sex-based pay discrimination and helping fuel new energy into the pay equity movement.

Her loss at the Supreme Court level sparked not only widespread public outrage at the deterioration of our civil justice system thanks to big business and tort "reform", but also a huge federal legislative push to fix pay discrimination. (TortDeform covered the bill here and the upsetting cloture vote here. DMI analyzes what the Fair Pay Act is all about and why it would protect the American middle class here).

Here's what Obama, who supported the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, had to say about the bill:

The Ledbetter Fair Pay Act would overturn an unfair Supreme Court decision that made it harder for working women to sue their employers for pay discrimination... [The bill]'s a common-sense measure to restore justice and equality in the workplace. Unfortunately, the Bush Administration is siding with the special interests and has threatened to veto it, something it has done only a handful of times in the past seven and a half years. I believe that if you work hard and do a good job, you should be rewarded no matter what you look like, where you come from, or what gender you are. That's why I'm supporting this bill and that's why I urge my colleagues to do the same."

And here's what McCain, who didn't vote that day, had to say:

I am 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. (Note: I previously blogged about and critiqued this statement here)

From the ACLU press release:

Lilly Ledbetter to Address DNC on Women’s Equality Day

..."It is amazing to consider how far we've come. But it's equally amazing to consider how far we still have to go. In the same year we saw momentous strides made by women in the political arena, the Supreme Court rolled back decades of progress in the workplace. Lilly Ledbetter learned, after years of employment at Goodyear Tire, that she was unfairly being paid less than her male counterparts, and turned to the courts for help. Even though a jury of her peers found that she had been unfairly paid at work, in Ledbetter v. Goodyear, the Supreme Court took it all away and restricted the ability of victims to seek compensation for wage discrimination, shielding unscrupulous employers who are able to keep unfair pay practices under wraps.

"Lilly Ledbetter's story reminds us that, even in this auspicious year for women in America, we still have plenty of work before us. Last year, the House of Representatives passed legislation, the ‘Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2007,' aimed at ensuring employers don't profit from years of discrimination simply because their employees were unaware of it. The bill addresses wage disparity based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age and disability, and clarifies that such discrimination is not a one-time occurrence, but rather, that each discriminatory paycheck an employer issues represents an ongoing violation of the law.

"The ACLU strongly supports this commonsense solution, and we are urging the Senate to follow the House's lead. The type of systemic discrimination experienced by Lilly Ledbetter and countless others is inconsistent with core American values of fairness and equality. On this day, we are reminded that we must continue the fight for equality in all spheres of American life."

The voting public has got to make a priority out of electing a president who will put issues of justice and fairness to ordinary Americans like Mrs. Ledbetter ahead of corporate special interest groups that are tirelessly pushing for harmful tort "reforms". We had better pay close attention to what the candidates have to say (and how they vote) about a persons' ability to access the courts when her employer discriminates against her, or when she suffers some other form of corporate abuse. It could mean the difference between true democracy and a corporate takeover of our government.

Bit by bit we're getting more information about where the candidates stand on the civil justice issues that affect ordinary people. Keep your eyes peeled...

Kia Franklin: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 4:49 PM, Aug 26, 2008 in Civil Rights | Discrimination | Employment Discrimination | In the News | Legislation | Right to Access the Courts | Supreme Court Rulings | Tort "Reform" & Gender
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If Obama thinks this bill represents good legislation, that's reason enough to oppose him.

Posted by: Avenger | August 26, 2008 9:59 PM