Wednesday, June 06, 2007

That's okay: I didn't want to be paid the same amount as dudes anyways

In an America where you can sue a dry cleaner to the tune of 67 million dollars for a lost pair of pants, I'm finding it impossible to conceive that similar retribution has been made virtually impossible for victims of pay discrimination.

180 days to file a claim relating to such an issue is a joke; and the plaintiff, Lilly Ledbetter is the personification of this problem, as it took nineteen years before it was realized she was getting paid forty percent less then the lowest paying male supervisor (see this fantastic article).

Justice Ginsburg puts it correctly in her dissent saying, "In our view, the court does not comprehend, or is indifferent to, the insidious way in which women can be victims of pay discrimination...Title VII was meant to govern real-world employment practices, and that world is what the court today ignores."

The Grossman and Brake article states, "An employer could pay a woman less than her male counterparts for her entire career, and admit that the reason for doing so is because she is female, as long as the decision to set the discriminatory wage happened at least six months earlier. This rule places untenable burdens on employees and circumvents Title VII's substantive protection against pay discrimination."

Will I ever sue because of a pay discrepancy? Probably not. I like to believe, though, when ever I'm in a tough situation that the law "is on my side" and works most of the time (I know, I know; how I manage to sometimes so romanticize 'the law', even baffles me at this point) . But that romanticism is what gave me the strength to tell my boss' supervisor when I worked at the dinning hall, that they couldn't simply change the names of our foreign exchange students to something "American" because my boss couldn't pronounce their real name, and not think I would get fired. (Oh, the good ole days when I knew nothing about 'big corporation' and the ability of an employer to make you want to leave)

This takes so many steps backwards towards getting the pay gap closed. It's something that makes me struggle to find an area where the law is, in fact, "on my side" when they seem to care about an already rich guys pants over low paying workers trying to get through the every day. Yes, these two cases aren't in a direct competition at all, but the fact that the first case can exist while the second is now shut down, is extremely disheartening.


Katie said...

Oh, I so TOTALLY agree with you. It's getting to the point where I don't even want to read the Supreme Court decisions because I know they're going to be so ridiculous. I'm sort of concerned now that even the end of the Bush administration won't save us from the crazies.

Destiny said...

I try to make up the difference in salary by stealing from the tampon machine in the women's restroom.

Rodrigo said...

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