Expert Legal Source Available for Comment Regarding the U.S. Congress Overturning U.S. Supreme Court Decision on Lilly Ledbetter [Fair Pay]

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich., Jan. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Today [Thursday, Jan. 29, 2009] President Obama signs the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 into law. This bill outlaws "discrimination in compensation" which is broadly defined to include wages and employee benefits. Sue Ellen Eisenberg, an employment law specialist in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, heralds the new Act as a triumph:

"The new Act actualizes the promise of providing a level playing field by requiring that employers establish compensation systems that are color and gender blind and gives employees the means to challenge employers that do not play by these rules." "This new legislation will result in the increase of filing of wage discrimination claims because it opens the door that had been slammed shut by the U.S. Supreme Court decision."

"Smart employers will examine their compensation practices to assure that they are non-discriminatory and reward equal work with equal pay."

About the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009: The Ledbetter Act, by legislation, overturns the U.S. Supreme Court's May 2007 decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. That decision required workers to file charges on a pay discrimination claim within the first six months of receiving their first discriminatory paycheck.

Ms. Ledbetter was a longtime supervisor at a Goodyear tire plant in Alabama. When she discovered that she was paid significantly less than male supervisors, she filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for gender-based pay discrimination under Title VII. Ms. Ledbetter won in the trial court. However, on appeal, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed Ms. Ledbetter's claims. It held that, although there was unlawful discrimination, Ms. Ledbetter failed to timely file her Charge of Discrimination because she did not file within 180 days of the first time her paycheck was less than her male counterparts. The Supreme Court took this position even though Ms. Ledbetter was not aware of the discrimination during this time period and, accordingly, it would have been impossible for her to meet this standard.

The Ledbetter Act fixes this widely-criticized decision which, in effect, prevented many injured employees from exercising their civil rights. The new Act adopts a "pay-check accrual" test that had been used by many EEOC offices prior to the Supreme Court decision. This provides a new statute of limitations and makes clear that each new paycheck is a violation of law if it results "in whole or in part" from a discriminatory pay decision in the past.


SOURCE Sue Ellen Eisenberg
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