The House convenes at 9 a.m. this morning, with legislative business to get under way at 10 a.m. High on the agenda is a vote on passage of H.R. 2831, the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. This bill destroys any measure of finality in employment law, eliminating deadlines for filing complaints for workplace discrimination.
As we noted yesterday (here), Congress has made repeated policy decisions to include deadlines in employment law. They’re there for a reason. First, deadlines provide employers with certainty: An alleged incident or practice is not going to come back and bite you 10 years after the fact, when the distance of time makes it almost difficult to refute accusations by a disgruntled (former) employer. Deadlines discourage the filing of frivolous lawsuits, meant not to correct a violation but only to squeeze some money out of (supposedly) deep pockets.
Deadlines also serve an important corrective purpose. If workplace discrimination is occurring unbeknownst to the employer, how can management correct it if no one complains? Employers of good will want to fix problems — if, at the very least, to address the legal liability — but may need the impetus of a complaint, one that brings the problem to their attention.
And again, proponents of this bill misrepresent it. It’s not a simple legislative fix to the Supreme Court ruling in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co, it’s a fundamental shift in employment law.
The National Retail Federation made the case in a letter to the House yesterday.
Contrary to the claims of the bill’s proponents, this bill contains numerous provisions that would unfairly and unnecessarily expand employer liability in a variety of employment law contexts, creating a long-term litigation time bomb while compromising the prompt settlement of discrimination claims,” NRF Senior Vice President for Government Relations Steve Pfister said. “This measure abandons the balanced settlement process set forth in current law and instead creates a lawsuit bonanza for trial lawyers.”
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