SANTA FE, NM -- Governor Bill Richardson released the following statement today in response to the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling that limits workers' ability to sue over pay discrimination.
"I am extremely disappointed in the Supreme Court's ruling, which seriously undermines the ability of women and minorities to challenge acts of pay discrimination.
"The majority of justices on this Court are out of touch with current realities. Unequal pay is often a secret and subtle act of discrimination, and the 180-day time limit places an insurmountable burden upon those affected.
"I call upon Congress to clarify that the Court was wrong in interpreting the statute and to amend Title VII, so that discrimination suits may be filed within a reasonable time after the plaintiff learns or could have learned of the alleged discrimination.
"If Congress and President Bush do not correct this, I will push for and sign such legislation as the next President.
"In the long run, we must also restore balance to the Supreme Court. The best way to ensure this is to elect a President who will appoint justices with reasonable interpretations of the law. As President this will be one of my highest priorities."
Governor Bill Richardson has a long history of fighting for equal pay and greater professional opportunities for women and minorities.
Early in his first term, Governor Bill Richardson recognized the importance of this issue and called for a Pay Equity Task Force to study the problem and issue recommendations.
The Governor has a strong record of appointing women and minorities to top positions in his administrations. Over two thirds of his appointments as Energy Secretary went to women and minorities, and three-quarters of the Governor's cabinet are women and minorities with a seat at the table, assuring that pay inequity and equal hiring practices are addressed in policy decisions and practices. His Lt. Governor, Diane Denish is the first female Lt. Governor and they are both committed to eliminating the pay gap.
As Governor, Bill Richardson's action to institute collective bargaining as one of his first acts in office, has not only showcased his commitment to the labor movement for fair wages and good working conditions, but helped to narrow the gender pay gap. Studies show that women in unions make 31% more than women who are not in unions. His commitment to a high-wage, union-friendly economy has created over 80,000 new jobs, many of them in high tech and other new industries that pay well, and many of them held by women.
He increased the minimum wage, which will additionally help to overcome this inequity, since the majority of minimum wage workers are adult women.
As President, Bill Richardson will continue his commitment to the principles of equal and fair pay, just as he has done as a member of Congress, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, and as Governor of New Mexico since 2003.