House Committee on Education and Labor
U.S. House of Representatives

Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon
Ranking Member

Fiscally responsible reforms for students, workers and retirees.



Dear Colleague

January 9, 2009

Wall Street Journal Says, "the losers would be current and future employees"
Vote NO on H.R. 11 and H.R. 12

Dear Colleague:

The House is scheduled to vote today on a pair of bills that will drastically increase the number and cost of lawsuits filed against American businesses, both large and small, thereby stifling job creation, putting existing jobs at risk, and even threatening the financial security of current and future retirees.

Consider the following, from an editorial appearing in today’s Wall Street Journal that exposes the dangerous economic consequences of H.R. 11 and H.R. 12, the bills up for consideration today.

“The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is an effort to overturn a 2007 Supreme Court decision, Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber. Lilly Ledbetter had worked for Goodyear for almost 20 years before retiring. Only in 1998, after she took her pension, did she sue and allege wage discrimination stretching back to the early 1980s. The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against her, noting the statute clearly said claims must be filed within 180 days, or sometimes 300 days, of the discrimination.

“That ruling put to rest Ms. Ledbetter's creative theory that decisions made decades ago by a former boss affected her pay all the way to retirement, so that each paycheck was a new discriminatory act and thus fell within the statute of limitations. Yet that is exactly the theory Congress would now revive with the Ledbetter bill. There would no longer be time limits on suc! h discrimination claims. They could be brought long after evidence had disappeared or witnesses had died -- as was the case with Ms. Ledbetter's former boss.

“For the tort bar, this is pure gold. It would create a new legal business in digging up ancient workplace grievances. …
“Most companies would feel compelled to settle such claims rather than endure the expense and difficulty of defending allegations about long-ago behavior. The recipe here is file a suit, get a payday. And the losers would be current and future employees, whose raises would be smaller as companies allocate more earnings to settle claims that might pop up years after litigating employees had departed. …

“Meanwhile, the [Paycheck Fairness Act] strips companies of ce! rtain defenses against claims of sex-based pay discrimination. It also makes it easier to bring class actions …”

Ending workplace discrimination is not a partisan endeavor; it is an American imperative. But the bills we’re voting on today will do far more for trial lawyers than working women and families. Please join me in voting no on H.R. 11 and H.R. 12.



Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-CA)
Senior Republican
Committee on Education and Labor