House Sends Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to Obama

The House of Representatives today passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, sending the bill to President Obama's desk and signaling a victory for labor and women's rights activists, who have pushed for the legislation since 2007 amid opposition from President Bush.

The bill makes it easier for workers to collect damages for pay discrimination. It responds to a Supreme Court ruling against Lilly Ledbetter, who, on the verge of retirement from a Goodyear plant, learned she had been paid 40 percent less than her male peers.

The legislation was introduced in 2007 and has won passage from the House before. Facing GOP opposition and a looming veto threat from President Bush, it had previously failed to garner the 60 votes necessary to break a filibuster in the Senate.

The Supreme Court ruled that, since Ledbetter's first discriminatory paycheck had been issued years before her complaint, the 180-day filing deadline had passed for her lawsuit, and she could not claim discrimination. Under today's bill, one can file suit 180 days from the last discriminatory check, effectively extending the filing deadline.

Obama used the bill to attack Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) during the 2008 campaign, producing an ad that featured Ledbetter blasting McCain for voting against bringing it to the Senate floor.

Obama is expected to sign the measure.

The House passed the bill today 250-177, largely along party lines; it passed the Senate last Thursday 61-36, drawing support from three Republicans.