CFI asks senators to support The Fair Pay Restoration Act (S. 1843)

February 14, 2008

The Center for Inquiry's Office of Public Policy in Washington, D.C. recently urged congressional members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) to prevent gender-based wage discrimination by co-sponsoring and supporting the Fair Pay Restoration Act (S. 1843). If enacted, S.1843 will make it easier for women to file claims against their employers for discrimination, urge employers to offer equal pay for equal work, and will protect all employees against gender-based wage discrimination.

The Honorable Edward Kennedy, Chairman

The Honorable Michael B. Enzi, Ranking Member

On behalf of the Center for Inquiry (CFI), a grassroots organization that encourages evidence-based inquiry into science, pseudoscience, medicine and health, religion, ethics, secularism, and society, we urge you to co-sponsor and support S. 1843, the Fair Pay Restoration Act. This bill will reverse the Supreme Court's misinterpretation of anti-discrimination law and will help stop gender-based wage discrimination by employers.

On May 29, 2007 the United States Supreme Court handed down its ruling in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber, Co . The Supreme Court decision requires employees who receive disparate pay on the basis of gender to file a claim within 180 days of the first discriminatory payment decision. The employee must file the claim within the 180 day charging period whether or not she/he is aware that a discriminatory payment was issued. The Supreme Court's ruling fails to take into account the realities of the workplace as pay decisions are often confidential making compensatory discrimination difficult to identify. Justice Ruth Ginsburg even acknowledged in her dissenting opinion that "[c]ompensation disparities [...] are often hidden from sight." Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 550 U.S. _____ (2007) The Supreme Court's ruling makes it more difficult for women to file discrimination claims and unduly burdens employees in general. Additionally, this ruling encourages and rewards employers who hide discriminatory pay decisions until the 180 filing period expires.

Congress now has the chance to correct the Supreme Court's decision with the Fair Pay Restoration Act. If passed, this bill will amend Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 to clarify that an unlawful practice occurs each time disparate compensation is paid as a result of discriminatory. Under the Fair Pay Restoration Act the 180 day charging period in which employee would be required to file a claim would begin each time the employee receives a disparate pay resulting from discrimination. This means that each time a woman is paid less than a similarly situated male due to gender, an act of illegal discrimination has occurred. In essence, this bill simply requires equal pay for equal work.

The House of Representatives has already passed the companion measure to the Fair Pay Restoration Act, H.R. 2831. It is now up to the Senate to ensure that victims of wage discrimination can find protection in the courts. We urge you to co-sponsor and support S.1843, the Fair Pay Restoration Act to help stop gender-based wage discrimination.

Thank you for you consideration.