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Fair pay legislation passes in House


WASHINGTON--The House of Representatives has approved a bill that would override a U.S. Supreme Court decision that affirmed a 180-day deadline for filing complaints of illegal pay discrimination.

The House voted 225-199 Tuesday to approve H.R. 2831, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which was written in response to the Supreme Court's May 29 decision in Lilly Ledbetter vs. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a charge of unlawful employment practice must be filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission within 180 days of the alleged offense.

Ms. Ledbetter argued that Goodyear made a series of intentionally discriminatory pay decisions, some of which went back 19 years, and that those decisions affected her later earnings. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the 180-day deadline in its 5-4 decision.

Employers had feared that a ruling in Ms. Ledbetter's favor would have subjected them to unjustified administrative burdens, including retaining years' worth of employment-related documents long after required by law.

The legislation passed by the House would remove time limits on filing discriminatory compensation claims.

A companion bill, the Fair Pay Restoration Act, S. 1843, has been introduced in the Senate by 14 senators led by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa.

The Office of Management and Budget said President Bush's senior advisers would recommend he veto the bill if it appears before him. The OMB said the bill constitutes an expanded application of employment discrimination law and would "undermine the important goal of having allegations of discrimination expeditiously resolved."