THANK GOD FOR DIVIDED GOVERNMENT. As Scott noted yesterday, the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision on pay discrimination is disastrous. Employees must file complaints within 180 days of a salary being set, which is simply outside the bounds of common sense. We all know how much secrecy surrounds pay, even in otherwise congenial workplaces. But the Court has decreed that even when there is a pattern of lower raises for women or minority groups that develops over months or years, an individual employee has no legal recourse after 180 days.
The plaintiff in the suit, Lilly Ledbetter, worked for a Goodyear tire plant in Alabama, where she was the only woman out of 17 managers at her level. Although Ledbetter's starting salary was equal to that of her male colleagues, she was given smaller raises and eventually made less than even the lowest-paid man at her level, who started after her.
In a characteristically withering dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg invited Congress to overturn the ruling. According to Congressional Quarterly, Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, and George Miller immediately signified their intent to do so. As I've written before, Clinton has an excellent track record on workplace discrimination, and recent reporting about her time on the Wal-Mart board of directors suggests a long-running commitment to the intersection of labor and feminist issues. Clinton's proposed Paycheck Fairness Act strikes right at the heart of yesterday's decision, making it illegal to penalize employees for sharing salary information with one another and easier for workers to file complaints of long-term discrimination. And all this despite Mark Penn.