January 22, 2009
WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) today made the following statement expressing support for the Title VII Fairness Act (S.166), legislation that ensures greater fairness and balance in employee discrimination lawsuits, while voicing opposition to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act passed by a vote of 61 to 36.
“The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is the wrong approach to handling such an important issue as workplace discrimination,” Senator Inhofe said. “Though its supporters claim the bill is about protecting the right of employees who may not know that they have been discriminated against, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in reality represents a tremendous burden on employers and a boon for trial lawyers across the country. It is an overly broad and cumbersome approach, essentially eliminating the statute of limitations on employment discrimination claims.
“A better approach is Senator Hutchison’s legislation, the ‘Title VII Fairness Act.’ This legislation takes a more measured approach by allowing claimants to bring lawsuits when they have a reasonable suspicion of discrimination. The legislation would ensure fairness and balance by allowing access to courts for aggrieved parties, while providing certainty for those who may be called to defend themselves. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act clearly steps beyond this, greatly reducing confidence in the pre-trial litigation process and forcing businesses to mount potentially expensive defenses on decisions that were made years, perhaps dozens of years, before the action was brought.
“History has repeatedly shown that America possesses true potential for breaking down barriers of discrimination. Now more than ever, it is important that we ensure equality in the workplace where a person is judged by his or her merits, not by their race or gender. I will continue to working with my colleagues toward a balanced approach that provides a remedy to those who have legitimate discrimination claims, and at the same time allows employers to mount a defense based upon discovery of reliable evidence.”