Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (employment discrimination based on sex, race, color, national origin, religion and retaliation for assisting or participating in someone elses’ claim, of after you file your claim) was a part of LBJ’s Great Society Program. The only reason that “sex” is a part of the statute is that Strom Thurmond amended the act assuming that it couldn’t pass with “sex” as a part of the law. §42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq.
The original plan was that the EEOC would resolve the complaints quickly through mediation. The law set a short Statute of Limitations (180 days) to encourage rapid reporting of discrimination and rapid remedies.
The law was never fully funded. Moreover, where states adopted state agencies that served similar purposes, the statute of limitations was expanded to 300 days to report to the EEOC.
The law evolved – with Court decisions extending jurisdiction back in time so long as the repeated discriminatory events took place at least once every 180 days (or, in states with their own agencies, once every 300 days).
In a landmark case, Ledbetter v. Goodyear, Lilly Ledbetter worked for Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company at its Gadsden, Alabama, plant from 1979 until 1998. During that time she earned at least 1/3 less than every male doing exactly the same job as Ms. Ledbetter. Goodyear contended that Ledbetter’s pay discrimination claim was time barred with respect to all pay decisions made prior to September 26, 1997—that is, 180 days prior to her filing with the EEOC.
In the past, our cases would have made every discriminatory paycheck another act of discrimination and “chained back” the discrimination to the first act of gender-based pay discrimination.
The Supreme Court overturned 40 + years of precedent in its decision in this case, holding that Ms. Ledbetter should have brought he claim within 180 days of the First act of discrimination (how many of you know what your co-workers earn?). See, http://supremecourtus.gov/opinions/06pdf/05-1074.pdf
Today, the Ledbetter Pay Discrimination Act, - a bill to put things back the way that they were – was passed by the House but defeated in the Senate on a 56-42 vote (4 shy of winning) along party lines.
John McCain did not vote – he was on “the campaign trail” and claimed that he supported equal pay for equal work – but did not support the Ledbetter Pay Discrimination Act, because it would “open the floodgates” for more litigation. In fact, all it would have done was to have put back 45 years of precedent – not open floodgates.
John McCain is a liar when he says he did not support the act because of increased litigation. He supports employment discrimination. Plain and simple.