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NAM: Fair Pay Act Scope Too Broad

Legislation eliminates timeframes, which NAM says leaves businesses open to endless litigation and makes it difficult to rectify discrimination charges.

WASHINGTON – The Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2007, passed by a House vote of 225-199, overturns a U.S. Supreme Court Decision and would make it difficult for employers to rectify cases of discrimination and lead to endless litigation against business, the National Association of Manufacturers said Tuesday.

The Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company case upheld the 180-300 day timeframe to file discrimination lawsuits.

“Our members are committed to preventing discrimination of any kind in the workplace, but allowing people to file claims without any reasonable timetable won’t resolve or prevent further discrimination,” said Jason Straczewski, NAM director of employment and labor policy. “If discrimination is occurring, then employers have a genuine concern, desire and incentive to rectify the situation promptly. Filing a complaint years after an incident deters this process, making it more difficult for a company to take action to prevent future problems.”

Straczewski added that the time limits ensure witnesses and information regarding a case are still available.

“Essentially, this legislation would open the door to lawsuits that employers cannot defend—where witnesses are unavailable and data is not obtainable. In a case like that, no one wins,” Straczewski said.

Existing legal doctrines allow courts to provide additional time to file charges where the facts of the discrimination could not have been known or in cases where the employer conceals the discrimination from the employee.

“Courts have extended an individual’s time to file by as long as three years where the facts warranted,” Straczewski added. “Contrary to what the bill’s supporters claim, the recent Supreme Court decision did not change existing law, it merely upheld 40 years of carefully balanced employment law.”

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