In 1981, a famous Fram Oil filter commercial aired on network television stations. In this commercial, a mechanic appeals to the public,
“You can pay me now or pay me later”
…with the innuendo that later is going be significantly more expensive. This statement really applies to systemic pay discrimination for protected class groups of employees especially when applying the Lilly Ledbetter Act provisions.
The Supreme Court rendered a recent decision in the case of Walmart v. Duke where the justices focused their ruling on the specific legal issue of whether the large group of women plaintiffs could pursue their compliant through a class action lawsuit. The 5-4 ruling against the plaintiffs on the class action issue ended years of litigation on this case through the American judicial system. This ruling against the plaintiffs will have a definite impact on the definition and viability of future class action lawsuits but it did not address whether Walmart engaged in unlawful pay discrimination.
The US Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis stated in the official Blog of the U.S. Department of Labor, “The 5-4 ruling against the plaintiffs on the class-action issue will not affect the Labor’s Department’s strong commitment to pursue back wages for groups of women who are victims of employer-wide pay discrimination. DOL does not file class action lawsuits; instead, we enforce an executive order that says federal contractors can’t discriminate based on gender when setting compensation levels for their employees.”
Ms. Solis mentions in her blog about the disparity of pay between women and men. She stated, “Today in America, women are paid on average 80 cents for every dollar paid to men.” When women start at a disadvantage, they stay at a disadvantage. And we all lose.” She proceeded to say in her blog, “When we seek a remedy for pay discrimination, we automatically seek back wages for all affected employees at a company. We feel this is an important way to level the playing field and curb pay disparities affecting women.”