What: All Issues : Labor Rights : Rights of Individuals in the Workplace : (S.181) On the motion to table (kill) the Specter of Pennsylvania Amendment offered to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. The Specter Amendment would have clarified that employers still had available to them various defenses relating to the statute of limitations in wage discrimination suits. (2009 senate Roll Call 8)
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(S.181) On the motion to table (kill) the Specter of Pennsylvania Amendment offered to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. The Specter Amendment would have clarified that employers still had available to them various defenses relating to the statute of limitations in wage discrimination suits.
senate Roll Call 8     Jan 22, 2009
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Win

This was a vote on a motion to table (kill) an amendment offered by Sen. Specter (R-PA) to S.181, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, a bill that changed the rules regarding the statute of limitations for wage discrimination suits. The Specter Amendment would have first clarified that employers would still have available to them various defenses relating to the statute of limitations against a law suit claiming wage discrimination: Specter noted that Justice Ginsburg’s dissent in the Ledbetter case specifically pointed out that these traditional defenses were still available. He said that specifying their availability in the language of the bill “makes it conclusive . . . and allows a reasonable defense by the employer.” The Specter Amendment also sought to eliminate wording in S.181 that would allow employees to file employment discrimination suits based on “other practices'' beside unequal pay. Specter argued “(T)he bill does not define the phrase and . . . that it is going to promote extensive litigation . . . .” He suggested that he would be willing to consider specifying in the bill some other areas that might serve as grounds for employment discrimination suits, such promotion and tenure, but that using a vague term like “other practices” opened things up too much.

Sen. Durbin opposed the amendment, focusing particularly on Specter’s effort to clarify that defenses relating to the statute of limitations would be available to employers.  Durbin argued that there should be an exception to the usual statute of limitations rules in wage discrimination cases where there can be “fraud and concealment.” He argued: “(I)n this case, there is clearly a situation where you don't know what your fellow employee is being paid.”

S.181 changed the law to say that the180 day statute of limitations for filing a pay discrimination suit would begin again with each new paycheck that contained the discriminatory pay. S.181 was developed in response to a 2007 Supreme Court decision holding that the 180 day statute of limitations on equal pay law suits begin on the date the pay was originally agreed upon, and not the date of the most recent paycheck. That ruling had prevented Lilly Ledbetter from recovering for unequal pay because she did not learn that she was receiving unequal pay until years after she was hired.

A motion to table is an effort to stop consideration of a pending matter, in this case the Specter Amendment. The vote on the motion was 53-43 along almost straight party lines. Fifth-two Democrats and one Republicans voted “aye”.  Forty Republican and three Democrats voted “nay”.  As a result, the Senate continued to consider the bill containing the new rules for the statute of limitations on wage discrimination suits without adding language clarifying that employers would still have various defenses available to them.

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