Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act renews a worker’s right to sue for wage discrimination within six months of every unfair paycheck, not just the first.  The legislation was spurred by the case of Lily Ledbetter, a lifelong employee of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, who became aware that the company had, for decades, consistently paid her less than her equivalent male colleagues. A jury found her employer guilty of pay discrimination, but the conservative wing of the Supreme Court overturned the case, 5-4, because she hadn’t sued within 180 days of the date of the first discriminatory paycheck. (This would have been impossible, of course, because Ledbetter only became aware of the injustice after it had been happening for decades.) The Act overturns the Court’s decision. 

Cry Wolf Quotes

The new law would pretty clearly restart the time clock for filing the claim when an employee receives a retirement benefit, a pension benefit, even an (employee stock ownership plan payment). In doing so, the Ledbetter Act exposes employers to endless liability…[it is an] unprecedented expansion [of employment law].

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Michael Layman of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), Inc.Com.

Petitioner, however, seeks a rule that would effectively eliminate any meaningful period of limitation in certain kinds of discriminatory pay claims, allowing an employee to wait years or even decades to challenge an allegedly discriminatory decision so long as the economic consequences of that decision have continued into the limitations period. Such a rule would be irreconcilable with Congress’ design for the administration of Title VII, and would subject the employers…to damages for entirely innocent decisions that have nonetheless become difficult or impossible to defend solely because of the passage of time….such a rule would impose an unwarranted and excessive burden on employers…

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From the amicus brief filed by Chamber of Commerce and the NFIB Legal Foundation.

The only ones who will see an increase in pay are some of the trial lawyers who bring the cases.

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Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) quoted in “How Dumb Are We? How long will women shoulder the blame for the pay gap?” in Slate.

Eliminating this statute of limitation does not benefit the employees or employers. Instead, alleged discrimination could go undetected for many years, subjecting an increasing number of employees to wrongful actions. At the same time, employers would be forced to defend against an avalanche of decades-old, potentially frivolous claims. Prompt filing of claims allows employers to identify and, when necessary, to discipline those managers who may be violating the law.

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Jeri G. Kubicki, NAM’s Vice President Human Resources Policy, The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). Letter to Congress.