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Harkin Statement on Supreme Court Decision to Block Wal-Mart Sex Discrimination Suit

WASHINGTON – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, released the following statement after the Supreme Court ruled that a sex discrimination class-action suit against Wal-Mart cannot move forward: 

“At a time when women make only 77 cents for every dollar a man makes, I am disappointed that the Supreme Court has made it more difficult for Betty Dukes and the other women who have been victims of sex discrimination to have their day in court.  The Court has once again weakened the ability of workers to fight unfair treatment, just as it undermined Lilly Ledbetter’s ability to fight for equal pay and made it more difficult for Jack Gross to bring his age discrimination suit.

“In these difficult economic times, millions of Americans are concerned about their economic security.  It is particularly critical now -- when unfair loss of a job can economically devastate a family -- that our anti-discrimination laws are fully enforced and that every worker is treated fairly and judged on the quality of the work he or she performs.

“Today’s decision is reminder that much work remains in order to achieve equal pay for men and women and I will continue to work with my colleagues to strengthen our anti-discrimination laws and ensure that victims of discrimination have access to justice and corporations are held accountable.”

Chairman Harkin is the author of the Fair Pay Act, a bill which would require employers to provide equal pay for jobs that are equivalent—comparable in skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions.  He is also an original cosponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would strengthen penalties and close loopholes in the enforcement of current equal pay laws.