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Updated to remove "breaking." I changed the title since this is not really breaking any more.

I have never posted a "Breaking" news diary, but this one is pretty important.

The U.S. House of Representatives just passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay act by a vote of 250-177. (h/t to Scarce.) The vote was be almost party line with only a few Democrats voting against it and a few Republicans crossing the line and voting for it.

The Republicans also lost a motion to commit vote, which would have sent the bill back to committee, the grave yard of good and bad bills alike.

The Senate passed the bill last week and it will go to President Obama for his signature.

What does Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Bill do? Technically, it clarifies the 180 day statute of limitations on discrimination claims. Before this bill was passed, employees only had 180 days to seek redress. Lilly Ledbetter states that every time an employer issues a discriminatory paycheck, a new 180 day statute of limitation is triggered. Source. The bill limits employers' liability for two years of back pay.

This is significant because the SCOTUS recently handed down a ruling that destroyed workers' rights.

From the National Women's Law Center:

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act would reverse the damaging Supreme Court decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and help to ensure that individuals subjected to unlawful pay discrimination are able to effectively assert their rights under the federal anti-discrimination laws.

In Ledbetter, the Supreme Court held that employees cannot challenge ongoing compensation discrimination if the employer's original discriminatory decision occurred more than 180 days before, even when the employee continues to receive paychecks that have been discriminatorily reduced.

It is unfair to falme the court on this. The court was following the letter of the law. Congress adjusted the various laws to set the 180 day (that's half a year) time frame.

Anyone who has worked in a non-union job knows how tough it is to even find out if pay discrimination occurred. Discussions about pay rates are generally verboten at work and not considered a topic for polite conversation any where. (Collective bargaining agreements are a bit different since pay rates are negotiated by the union.)

Incidentally, Ms. Ledbetter worked for Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. for 19 years before she discovered the pay discrimination. She has also been lobbying for the act for a long time. On a side note, this both confirms that wage discrimination is not always readily apparent and not all lobbyists are bad people.

This is a great day for workers. Women's groups have been at the forefront of this debate, but it seems Lilly Ledbetter protects any worker who has been the victim of wage discrimination for any reason.

Naturally, the Republicans have been whining about how this will "hurt the economy." Pay them no heed. That is the standard line on any bill that would protect employees from arbitrary discrimination by greedy employers.

This is truly a victory for the Democrats that we helped to elect to the 111th Congress.

Update: Here's a link to the roll call. Thanks to Scarce and Mother Mags for the head's up.

Update: Rec List? My first time here. Thanks for the recs, everyone.

Update: The Dems who voted against the bill were Dan Boren (OK-02), Allen Boyd (FL-02), Bobby Bright (AL-02), Travis Childers (MS-1), and Parker Griffith (AL-05). The Repubs voting for it were Ed Whitfield (KY-01), Leonard Lance (NJ-07) and Chris Smith (NJ-04).

Originally posted to Casual Wednesday on Tue Jan 27, 2009 at 01:43 PM PST.

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