Written by: Meena Saini
A change in civil rights history has been made as of January 2009. President Obama has decided to take a stand against employment discrimination and signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, despite the past resistance of former President Bush.
In a 5-4 ruling in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. Inc., the Supreme Court held that Lilly Ledbetter’s claim was untimely. Lilly Ledbetter was a supervisor at a Goodyear plant who was grossly underpaid compared to her male counterparts for performing similar work duties. Ledbetter than filed a gender discrimination claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The defendant, Goodyear, argued that “the pay discrimination claim was time barred with regard to all pay decisions made before September 26, 1997—180 days before Ledbetter filed her EEOC questionnaire”. Accordingly, the Supreme Court held that if an individual wishes to bring a Title VII lawsuit, they must first file an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charge within 180 days “after the alleged unlawful employment practice occurred”. Thus, a pay discrimination charge must have been filed within the time limit of the employer’s initial decision to pay an employee less than other employees. This decision seriously hindered one’s ability to challenge pay discrimination since an employee is expected to discover the discrimination and promptly challenge it within a short period of time. Quoting Find Law, “The Court’s rule thus effectively immunized employers from Title VII liability for pay discrimination in many cases.”
Fortunately for all the employees in the United States, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act cancels out the Supreme Court ruling and in effect, improves our nation’s civil rights laws by providing victims of pay discrimination more opportunities for asserting claims under Title VII. The Act restores pay discrimination practices by declaring “that each paycheck that delivers discriminatory compensation is a wrong actionable under the federal EEO statutes, regardless of when the discrimination began”. Therefore, a pay discrimination charge must simply be filed within 180 (or 300 depending on the jurisdiction) days of any discriminatory paycheck. This legislation is another step into restoring discriminatory practices with regard to pay. As this act has proven, a little step can go a long way.
Leeds, Morelli & Brown, PC, are experienced and strong advocates against discrimination in the workplace environment. This law firm believes in closing the pay gap between men and women and promoting fair and equal workplace practices.
Leeds, Morelli & Brown, PC, has championed the fight against discrimination for over two decades. If you or someone you know has been a victim of discrimination, please contact one of the employment discrimination law attorneys at Leeds, Morelli & Brown, PC, at 1-800-585-4658 to schedule a free consultation.