I sat in traffic, incredulous and angry, as news of the Court's decision was broadcast. It was 2007, and in the case of Ledbetter vs. Goodyear, the Supreme Court upheld that a person had only 180 days from his or her hire date to allege pay discrimination. I couldn't believe that the Court was essentially protecting employers' right to discriminate in salaries, so long as they kept it under wraps for six months! In what decade and country were we living?
It's not as if salaries are printed under office name plates. It may take years to figure out that pay discrimination happening, but it does happen everyday to women and especially to mothers in the workforce. It's not just because women may take time off to raise kids or are more likely to work part-time or in a lower-wage field; studies reveal a gender pay gap exists between women and men in identical jobs with identical education and experience. The pay gap is visible even among men and women right out of college for whom family is not a factor.
But the times they are a-changin': Congress passed and on Thursday President Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, reversing the Court's 2007 decision. It is victory for women's rights and employment justice.