Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Pay Discrimination

Today I have a piece up on TAP Online about the Ledbetter case. SCOTUSblog also revisits the case, spelling out exactly what the problem with the case is: While the court had previously noted that there were exceptions to the statute of limitations as in Bazemore v. Friday, they have now decided that there is no exception to the statute of limitations, even if an obviously discriminating pay system is in place. Ledbetter's case is parallel to the Bazemore case in a lot of ways, since she and other women at the company seemed to be on a distinctly separate pay scale, but it appears because the number of women at the tire factory was so small they didn't have leverage to prove that they were expressly experiencing pay discrimination based on sex.

Part of this is that Bazemore could point to a payscale put in place before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. But, in a post-Civil Rights Act world, we tend to think we're beyond discrimination. If a woman is experiencing pay discrimination, it's her fault that she didn't speak up sooner. Listening to Ledbetter testify, it's hard to say that because it seems clear that she put up with a lot of shit over the course of her career at Goodyear. Pay discrimination is simply the final slap in the face -- something that's screwing her over to this day, because she earns less in retirement and social security.

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