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The Baltimore Sun

Pay bias ruling puts profit before people

Led by President Bush's latest appointee, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., the Supreme Court last week tore the heart out of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as far as pay discrimination is concerned ("Limit on pay-bias lawsuits upheld," May 30).

Justice Alito took the lead in the 5-4 ruling that found an employee who believes he or she has been discriminated against in pay based on gender, race, skin color, national origin or religion must file his or her charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission within 180 days of the pay being set or be forever barred from seeking redress in the federal courts.

In effect, the court said that when an employer discriminates in pay, the discrimination only occurs when the disparity begins, not during the years, perhaps decades, in which one employee may continually be paid less than others based solely on race, gender, religion, etc.

This is true even if the initial disparity is minimal and widens greatly over the years.

Maryland has a three-year statute of limitations for infractions such as trespass to land, Medicaid fraud, the unauthorized practice of medicine and sexual abuse of a minor student by a person in authority.

Does anyone think that if these acts were continually committed by one person against another for a period of four years, the victim or the state should lose its right to sue just because the first instance of such a violation occurred more than three years ago?

Of course not. But that would be consistent with the Supreme Court's ruling and rationale regarding pay discrimination under Title VII.

Thus the credo of Mr. Bush, Justice Alito and Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. - that the bottom line is the bottom line - has reared its ugly head for the first of what will be many times, as even after this dismal administration finally exits the White House in 2009, it will leave behind a judiciary that will carry on this profits-over-people formula for interpreting our laws.

David A. Fisher


The writer is a Maryland attorney whose work focuses on employment law.

Now up to Congress to correct the law

I have to disagree with the recent Supreme Court ruling that severely limits the rights of workers to seek a settlement as a result of possible workplace discrimination ("Limit on pay-bias lawsuits upheld," May 30).

While in theory it makes sense to have a statute of limitations on when someone can bring suit against an employer, it often takes considerable time before one can find out about such discrimination.

This is particularly true when it comes to pay because in most jobs, salary is a very sensitive issue not usually discussed among co-workers.

As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg pointed out, it is now up to Congress to correct the law.

Steven M. Clayton

Ocean, N.J.

Sheehan's opinions became outrageous

Leave it to The Sun to heap praise on Cindy Sheehan ("Taking leave of Crawford," editorial, May 30).

I have great sympathy for the loss she suffered, and I can understand her opposition to the war. However, the absurd things she has said and her grandstanding tactics reveal her to be an unthinking pawn of the left.

She has called the president a "terrorist" and an "evil maniac." She has compared members of his Cabinet to Hitler and Stalin.

She has expressed admiration for Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez. She has referred to the terrorist insurgents in Iraq as "freedom fighters."

While I will not argue with the editorial's opinion that Ms. Sheehan is "courageous," I disagree that she was "right."

Although Ms. Sheehan should be respected for the loss of her son, she should also be held accountable for her outrageous opinions.

Will Shoken


Democratic leaders betrayed mandate

How shameful it was to watch the Democratic Party appease President Bush's failed policies by handing the president what he demanded on the war funding bill ("Anti-war activists attack Democrats over Iraq bill," May 24). As a lifelong Democrat, I was disgusted by my party's leaders.

In being too cowardly to stand up against this president, they betrayed their party, the troops and the Americans who sent them to Washington last November.

Brian Fitzek


Divorce dispute not front-page fare

I can't believe that the private life of Clark and Debbie Turner is front-page news ("Their marriage ends, their lawsuits begin," May 31).

No one should be subject to such coverage of a very private matter. And I really can't believe that either party wants their private business on the front page of The Sun.

This article was a disgraceful intrusion into a couple's private life.

Charlotte Putland

Havre de Grace

Mitchell made indelible difference

I understood fully Kweisi Mfume's reaction to the death of Parren J. Mitchell ("Crusader for justice," May 29).

Mr. Mfume said he felt as he had when he had received news of his own father's death - like he had gotten a punch in the stomach.

Me too. And my heart, perhaps partially cracked from learning that he had passed into heaven, was still pounding an hour after learning of Mr. Mitchell's death.

I admired him, worked for his election and re-election and in his congressional office, learned from him and, yes, loved him.

To read that he was at times regarded as abrasive made me cringe while smiling.

He was the most sensitive, generous, fair, intelligent, learned and adorable man one could imagine. But he was also unrelenting in principle and did not gladly brook fools or cowards.

He was intensely loyal as well, and stood by his family and friends in all sorts of circumstances and at times under very difficult conditions.

He also knew when to turn over the reins.

We have lost a great leader - a pioneer, teacher, mentor and friend; someone who made a tremendous and indelible difference.

Rikki Fleisher


Unsung citizens also owe Mitchell tribute

I am glad, and it is fitting, that tributes are "pouring in" from Maryland "notables" for Parren J. Mitchell ("Tributes pouring in for Mitchell," May 30).

But I would like to speak for the scores of unsung liberated, educated and progressive men and women whose lives were positively influenced by the work of Parren J. Mitchell.

To say that he inspired us is truly an understatement: He not only inspired us, he also demonstrated by his example and leadership his willingness to make our fight his own when our cause was just.

And somehow he always did it with great humility, grace and statesmanship - a fact that speaks volumes about a life worthy of tribute and remembrance not only by Maryland's notables but by unsung citizens like me.

Lynnwood M. Taylor


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