Lily Ledbetter "Fair Pay" Act

Ledbetter v. Goodyear was one of those Supreme Court decisions that galvanized politicians, activists, etc. and became a proxy for complaints about "conservative" judges. We posted about that case here. We wrote an article about it here.

The opinion simply held that Title VII discrimination claims apply what's called a "statute of limitations." The "statute of limitations" protects employers from old claims. Claims that cannot be defended because records are gone, witnesses are dead or moved away, etc. It also protects defendants when plaintiffs "sit on their rights" and wait too long to prosecute their claims. By the way, Title VII indeed contains a statute of limitations. The dispute was over how it was applied.

Ledbetter had an Area Manager job with Goodyear for almost 20 years. Over a period of 15 years, her pay slipped as compared with other males. She finally sued for sex discrimination in her compensation under Title VII and the Equal Pay Act. The court held that the claims were time barred, because the allegedly discriminatory decisions to set her compensation were made outside the limitations period. But Ledbetter argued that every time she was paid, it was a new discriminatory act. As if the payroll coordinator knew how her wages were set. Anyway, the Court decided that her claims were time barred because none of the discriminatory decisions occurred within the 300 day limitations period that applies.

The decision hardly broke new ground. But it created a political firestorm, maybe because there was a presidential election campaign going on? Nah. But - but - Ms. Ledbetter spoke at one of the national party political conventions this year. Shhh.

Anyway, new administration, new laws. The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act will make all compensation-based discrimination claims timely as long as one paycheck issued under the discriminatory practice falls within the limitations period. Ripple effects? Settlements, documentation and review of compensation decisions, pay equity studies.... the mind boggles.

Here's the text of the Act, which signed on 1/29/09. Oh its effective date? May 26, 2007 - the day the Supreme Court issued its decision. So, it is retro, at least as to pending cases.

Anyway, this will help you take your mind off Ms. Ledbetter and her new law: EFCA can't be far behind!