Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (2009)
The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 is a piece of legislation passed by the 111th United States Congress and signed into law on the 29th January, 2009 by the then President of the United States, Barack Obama.
The Act supersedes the U.S. Supreme Court decision made in the 2007 case, Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 550 U.S. 618 (2007). The Supreme Court finding in that case ruled that the 180-day statute of limitations for filing an lawsuit in regards to a question of equal pay begins at the date the pay was agreed upon, not at the date of the most recent paycheck received by the plaintiff. The decision left open the possibility that a plaintiff could sue because she only recently learned about the discrimination, or sue under other discrimination laws with a longer statute of limitations. With the implementation of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 any plaintiff who wished to make a claim of pay discrimination had a 180-day statute of limitation timed from the date of the last paycheck that they had received.
Passage of the bill
The first attempt to pass the bill, H.R. 2831 and S. 1843, failed when the bill was defeated in the Senate in April 2008 when Republicans voted against it. In response the bill was reintroduced to the 111th Congress in January 2009 as H.R. 11 and S. 181. In the House of Representatives the bill passed on the 9th January, 2009 with a vote of 247-171, with 244 Democrats and 3 Republicans voting for and 5 Democrats and 166 Republicans voting against (and a combined party total of 15 members not voting). On the 22nd January, 2009, the bill was voted on in the Senate and passed with a vote of 61-36. No Democrat voted against the bill, and all 4 female Republican Senators, as well as Republican Senator Arlen Specter, voted for it. The only Senator not voting was Democrat Senator Edward Kennedy who was unable to vote because of ill-health.
As the bill passed in the Senate was slightly different to the bill passed in the House, the House then voted on S.181 and passed the bill on the 27th January, 2009, by a vote of 250-177, with 247 Democrats and 3 Republicans voting for, 5 Democrats and 172 Republicans voting against and a combined party total of 6 members not voting.
The vote in both the Senate and the House regarding the passage of S.181 is interesting in regards to how the two genders voted in regards to the bill. The combined female vote in the Senate and House supporting S.181 was 74, whilst the total number of votes against was 17. In comparison, the total male vote in the Senate and House supporting S.181 was 237, whilst the total number of votes against was 196. In percentage terms this means that the female vote split 81.32% for, 18.68% against, whilst the male vote split 54.73% for, 45.27% against. Those figures do not take into account those not voting.