Research from Mays Business School management Professor Leonard Bierman has recently received attention in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, as those legislative bodies consider amending the pay discrimination provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Congress’ actions in this regard have been in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in May 2007 in the case of Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, which placed strict time limits on the ability of employees to file workplace pay discrimination claims with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

U.S. Capitol
Research from Mays Business School management Professor Leonard Bierman has recently received attention in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.

The four dissenting Supreme Court justices in Ledbetter called on Congress to overturn the majority’s ruling in that case, and re-instate the EEOC’s traditional administrative discretion in affording alleged victims of pay discrimination some time flexibility in bringing forth claims. Bierman’s research, co-authored by Rafael Gely, a University of Cincinnati law professor, was cited in the decision. Their article, called “Love, Sex and Politics? Sure. Salary? No Way: Workplace Social Norms and the Law,” was published in the Berkeley Journal of Employment and Labor Law in 2004.

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2007 was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in June 2007, and was considered by both the U.S. House Labor Committee and the U.S. House Judiciary Committee (civil rights subcommittee). Bierman’s research was cited in testimony before both House committees. President George W. Bush has issued a two-page statement setting forth the reasons why he intends to veto the Lilly Ledbetter Act should it reach his desk for final approval. The U.S. House of Representatives, however, passed this legislation by a vote of 225-199 in July 2007.

This proposed legislation is currently before the U.S. Senate, where its most prominent co-sponsors are Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Bierman’s research was more recently discussed and cited in testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education and Labor in January 2008.

The issue is currently being hotly debated in the U.S. Senate, where opponents of the legislation have invoked Senate procedural filibuster-type rules requiring a vote of 60 senators to bring the issue to an up-or-down majority rule vote. On April 23, 2008 both Obama and Clinton returned to the Senate to vote on the issue, and joined a total of 56 senators voting in favor or bringing the Ledbetter Act to the floor for a final vote. Forty-two senators, however, voted against this measure, and two were absent.

Supporters of the Ledbetter Act are currently in the middle of negotiations seeking to either gain the procedural support of four more senators or reach a compromise with opponents of the bill on other issues so that they will permit the Ledbetter bill to reach the floor without supra-majority (60 senators) support.

Bierman is the coordinator of the Mays nationally top-ten ranked masters program in human resource management. Earlier in his career he held senior positions at both EEOC and the U.S. Department of Labor.