Archive for Thursday, February 19, 2009

Letter: Fair pay vote planned

February 19, 2009

To the editor:

Every working woman who is already sorry she voted for Lynn Jenkins for Congress, raise your right hand. The rest of you probably did not hear how Lynn Jenkins voted on The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

For 44 years, Lilly’s employer violated the 1964 Civil Rights Act by secretly paying Lilly 20 percent less than her male co-workers. The law said the employer owed Lilly over $360,000 in back-wages. At first, the court ruled in her favor. But a new U.S. Supreme Court judge convinced a 5-4 majority to rule that because Lilly didn’t file within the first six months after her first illegal paycheck — 44 years before — it was too late to file, even though the employer kept every employees’ pay a top secret, Lilly didn’t find out about the difference until just before she retired, at age 70.

Even worse, the court’s ruling gave all employers a blank check for pay discrimination due to gender, race, religion or age. The only risk was the unlikely chance that new employees might right away find out about their lower pay, realize it was illegal and sue their new employer, all within the first six months of their new job. Even then, the employers were off the hook by paying the difference in the first 5 or 6 months’ pay. But if, like Lilly, the employees did not find out and quickly file, the employers were home free! They then had a blank check to discriminate for years!

Last year, President Bush vetoed Congress’ attempt to fix the law and protect the employees. Happily, our new Congress amended the law last month, plugged the hole and President Obama signed it. Every Democrat and even four female Republican U.S. senators voted “YES” for the change. But not Lynn Jenkins. Our new Republican member of Congress voted “NO.”

We knew from her absence and malfeasance as state treasurer, that Lynn Jenkins was careless and callus. But who knew she was capable of such prejudice and partisan cruelty?

Where is Nancy Boyda when we need her?

Claude Lee

Topeka

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