Two Important Congressional Bills: The Fair Pay Restoration Act & The Civil Rights Act of 2008

Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass) has proposed two new, much-necessary bills. The first, called the Fair Pay Restoration Act, would essentially undo the harsh effects created by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Lilly Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., which held that the 180 day statute of limitations deadline for filing discrimination actions starts to run when a worker first begins to receive unequal pay, instead of when the employee actually becomes aware that his or her pay is discriminatory. We wrote about the Ledbetter decision on December 31, 2008 in a post entitled, Supreme Court Routs Title VII in 2007: Goodyear Wins Right to Discriminate Based on Gender. Senator Kennedy’s bill would make clear that the statute of limitations clock starts to run after the employee becomes aware of discrimination.

Senator Kennedy’s second bill, the Civil Rights Act of 2008, would undo more bad Supreme Court precedent as well. Among other things, the bill would reverse the 2001 Supreme Court decision in Alexander v. Sandoval, which held that individuals could not challenge federally-funded programs on the basis of discriminatory effect, but must rather meet the heavy burden of proving discriminatory intent.

The New York Times today featured an editorial on these two bills entitled, Restoring Civil Rights.