When does pay discrimination occur?

Assume case in which there is in fact pay discrimination occurring– women have been paid less than men, for no good reason, over a period of many years. Now consider the question: When did the discrimination occur? At the time that salaries were decided, or every time men and women received unequal pay cheques? Sounds like the sort of question only a philosopher could care about. Except that it isn’t. The US has a time limit for filing discrimination claims– they must be filed within 180 days of discrimination occurring. So the question is very important. Especially when we bear in mind that it can take quite a while to find out what other people are being paid, and so quite a while to find out that something discriminatory is happening. (How many of you, in your first 180 days at a job, learned the salaries of all or even some of your colleagues?) The Supreme Court, in the Ledbetter case, ruled that discrimination occurs when the discriminatory salaries are fixed, which makes it extremely hard for a discrimination suit to ever succeed. Senate Democrats are trying to fix this, but Republicans are blocking their bill. To help get the bill through, go sign this petition. (Thanks, Jender-Parents!)

2 thoughts on “When does pay discrimination occur?

  1. When the Supremes first voted on this, it struck me as yet another example of how the advantaged find it exceptionally difficult to imagine the experiences of the disadvantaged. I’m wondering now whether it wasn’t in fact a more malevolent mistake.

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