Unfair Pay and the Discrimination Loophole

A Supreme Court ruling from last week made it more difficult for people to sue their employers when they found that they were being discriminated against and paid neither fairly or equally. I missed this, but I think that was the point.

First, here’s what happened (from the article, with my emphasis added):

The court held on Tuesday that employees may not bring suit under the principal federal anti-discrimination law unless they have filed a formal complaint with a federal agency within 180 days after their pay was set. The timeline applies, according to the decision, even if the effects of the initial discriminatory act were not immediately apparent to the worker and even if they continue to the present day.

Allow me to translate. If something shady is going down at your job, all the shady folks have to do is make sure you don’t notice it for 6 months, then they are pretty much free to do whatever the hell they want and not get sued.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the few Justices left with any decency, is noted in the article saying the following:

In a vigorous dissenting opinion that she read from the bench, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the majority opinion “overlooks common characteristics of pay discrimination.” She said that given the secrecy in most workplaces about salaries, many employees would have no idea within 180 days that they had received a lower raise than others.

An initial disparity, even if known to the employee, might be small, Justice Ginsburg said, leading an employee, particularly a woman or a member of a minority group “trying to succeed in a nontraditional environment” to avoid “making waves.” Justice Ginsburg noted that even a small differential “will expand exponentially over an employee’s working life if raises are set as a percentage of prior pay.”

She is dead-on to call this ruling out for what it is: an underhanded political play by conservative business leaders [and the “Justices” that represent them] to provide a discrimination loophole. This is dangerous to both women and minorities.

This is yet another example of why the Supreme Court, and who gets appointed to the Supreme Court, matters. We have to be careful to make sure that all three branches of government have the interests of all people in mind when voting or making decisions. Too may of these loopholes left open will lead to an opening big enough fit a California-king-size bed through. That kind of sounds like Jim Crow to me…

It always amazes me how “small stuff” like this gets snuck past us as an unsuspecting public. Thankfully, we can prevent this in the future by coming up with better ways to share information amongst each other.

One Love. One II.

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About Garlin Gilchrist II

I am the City of Detroit's first ever Deputy Technology Director for Civic Community Engagement. My job is to open up the city's public data and information for the consumption and benefit of all Detroiters. I currently live in Detroit, my hometown, with my beautiful wife Ellen and our twins Garlin III and Emily Grace. I'm from Detroit. I created Detroit Diaspora, and was formerly the National Campaign Director at MoveOn.org. I also co-hosted The #WinReport on "The Good Fight," a an award winning, nationally syndicated radio show that was one of Apple's Best of 2013. After graduating with degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Michigan, I became a Software Engineer at Microsoft. By day, I helped build SharePoint into the fastest growth product in the company's history. On my personal time, I sought out opportunities to connect my technical skills with community building efforts across the country. This led to my co-founding The SuperSpade: Black Thought at the Highest Level, a leading Black political blog. I served as Social Media Manager for the 2008 Obama campaign in Washington, and then became Director of New Media at the Center for Community Change. I spent two years creating and implementing a strategy for the Center to take it's 40 years of community organizing experience into the digital age. I speak before diverse audiences on effective & responsive government, empowerment in revolutionary new organizing spaces, increasing civic engagement & participation through emerging technologies and protecting civil rights in the age of the Internet. Full bio here.

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