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

By applying the paycheck rule broadly, it is possible that claims could be filed decades after an allegedly discriminatory act occurred. By applying the rule to pension annuities as well, a cause of action could arise decades after the individual ceased to work for the employer….Subjecting employers to such claims would literally lead to an explosion of litigation second guessing legitimate employment and personnel decisions.

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Chamber of Commerce’s Key Vote Alert.

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.

This bill would allow an employee to bring a claim against an employer decades after the alleged initial act of discrimination occurred. Trial lawyers, you can be sure, are salivating at this very prospect.

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Representative Howard P. McKeon (R-CA), the senior Republican House Committee on Education and Labor, The New York Times.

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.