Friday, January 9, 2009

Rep. Cao: Not such a fan of women

Our new representative decided to start his career in politics by voting against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act today.

For those of you who don't know about this, Lily Ledbetter was a supervisor at a Goodyear plant in Alabama for many years.  She found out that she had been paid less than her male colleagues who worked in the same position.  She sued and took her case to the Supreme Court, who ruled that she had no right to compensation because her case wasn't filed within six months of the first instance of discrimination.

It was a horrible decision by a male-dominated court that apparently doesn't understand that the vast majority of pay scales are not public, and so uncovering pay discrimination can take decades.  Maybe the court did understand this, and instead thought that Lily Ledbetter deserved to be paid less than her male colleagues.

Congress rightfully decided to rectify this and attempted last year to pass the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which would remove the statute of limitations on filing a suit to compensate for lost wages.  The Republicans blocked it, fearful of "frivolous lawsuits."

The new Congress, with their sizeable Democratic majority, took it up again today.  I called Rep. Cao's DC office this morning and asked how he would be voting on it.  I was told that he was meeting with his legislative staff about that very issue at the moment.  I told the guy on the phone that I hoped Rep. Cao would vote to allow the women in his district the opportunity to be paid equally and sue for that right in court, because a civil right that you can't take to court is no right at all.  It was to no avail, because in a big "Fuck You" to the women of the 2nd district of Louisiana, Cao voted with the Republican caucus against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act today. 

Happily, it passed anyway, thanks to the sizeable Democratic majority.


Karen said...

what a shock...

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

A quote from "PhillyLawyer" at the WSJ Law Blog post on this subject:

"It was the Supreme Court that changed the status quo with a new “creative theory” that such claims were time-barred, and the Ledbetter Act is designed primarily to return the law to what it was before the Supreme Court messed with it. The arguments made by the Ed Board, John McCain and many others that the Ledbetter Act is some crazy brand-new impending legal disaster that is intended solely to be a bonanza for greedy trial lawyers, (who, of course, have no interest in the welfare of their clients or on the greater good of society but are only interested in making money and tormenting all those kindly, innocent corporations) are transparently fact-free and nasty. Actually, the people these arguments really trash are the workers like Lily Ledbetter.

And Herb Spencer, just what is the due process problem for the employers here? That they might be deprived of the right to discriminate against their employees and then cover it up until it is too late for the employees to seek legal recourse, all without due process of law for the poor employer?

alli said...

Pat, that's exactly what it comes down to: for basically every Supreme decision of the last 30 years, the Court's been too concerned with the poor employers, being deprived of the right to stomp all over their employees. And we wonder why inequality is back to Gilded Age levels.

Tim said...

And so it begins: voter remorse.



Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

Voter remorse? That a GOP Congressman voted with the GOP against a codification of a law that could help their political enemies? This is the price I'm quite willing to pay in order to depose a "Democratic" congressman who used every opportunity to enrich himself at the expense of others, fan the flames of race-baiting at the expense of the population who elected him, and reinforced old stereotypes of both African-Americans and New Orleans to America and the world.

Yeah, I'll take this vote, more a political excercise than a litmus test on gender issues (mostly manuvering to negotiate an ex post facto concession), on a sellout and symbolic resolution that could have been passed anytime in the last two years, that admittedly only changes precedent back to the "equitable" system we apparently had before SCOTUS went activist on the suit.

Way to react, Congress.

I wonder if the Representative from Utah will get the same amount of flack when he joins Jack Kingston in voting against the House resolution congratulating Florida for winning the BCS National Championship.

Wake me up when this Congress considers real gender-equity-in-pay legislation, or real tort reform. Whichever comes first.

GentilyGirl said...

I called hi C ffice and got a machine.

Still said my piece ans I'll follow up tomorrow.

alli said...

Pat, did you even read the post?

I never expressed voter remorse, and I explained exactly why this legislation isn't "sellout" or "symbolic," and that it had been blocked by Republicans last year after the Democrats introduced it.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

Alli: I know you didn't express voter remorse. I was responding to Tim.

As to the law, I know you don't think it is a sellout and symbolic resolution and you adequately explained why you think this. However, that is what I think after reading the text of the bill.

The actual text of the LLFPA deals mainly with amending other laws already on the books. Also, the statute of limitations does not appear to have been removed, but restarts to 180 days every time discriminating pay is recieved. Not every time a paycheck is recieved, only the discriminating ones.

The text of the bill also caps back pay for discriminatory inequity at two years, and has already been interpreted to cap out damages at $300K.

Hardly justice if someone has been underpaid because of sex, race, creed, color, disability, or age for more than 2 years.

As for the GOP blocking it with a veto/filibuster threat last year, why still not make a fight of it? Because a big fight exposes how light this bill actually is and at the same time could prove an overall election liability. By allowing the GOP to "block" the bill last year and not challenging them, the Dems played it safe, got to use the issue during the election and then control the news cycle when the bill did pass later. Which is exactly what they are doing.