4/23/2008 — 

MR. REED: Mr. President, I strongly support passage of H.R. 2831, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. We must continue to ensure that workers are protected from pay discrimination and treated fairly in the workplace.

As an original cosponsor of the Senate companion of this legislation, I am pleased that this bipartisan bill seeks to address and correct the Supreme Court's Ledbetter decision from last spring that required employees to file a pay discrimination claim within 180 days of when their employer initially decided to discriminate, even if the discrimination continues after the 180-day period. The Ledbetter decision overturned longstanding precedent in courts of appeals across the country and the policy of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under both Democratic and Republican administrations.

H.R. 2831 returns the law to the pre-Ledbetter precedent and would make clear that each discriminatory paycheck, not just the first pay-setting decision, will restart the 180-day period. T his allows workers to demonstrate and detect a pattern or cumulative series of employer decisions or acts showing ongoing pay discrimination.

As Justice Ginsburg noted in her Ledbetter dissent, such a law is "more in tune with the realities of the workplace." The Supreme Court majority failed to recognize these realties, including that pay disparities typically occur incrementally and develop slowly over time, and they are not easily identifiable and are often kept hidden by employers. Many employees generally do not have knowledge of their fellow coworkers' salaries or how decisions on pay are made.

Yesterday was Equal Pay Day, an opportunity to recognize the progress we have made as a nation on ensuring fairness, justice, and equality in the workplace. But there are barriers still to be overcome to close the pay gap and make certain that an individual's gender, race, and age are not an impediment to their economic and employment growth. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is one step forward in the direction of ensuring this growth and I urge my colleagues to support it.