Unequal Pay Victims Gain Protection through the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

Gender discrimination just became more expensive. On January 29, 2009, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. After approximately 19 years as an employee of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, Lilly Ledbetter learned that she earned less than her male colleagues. A jury found Goodyear liable for gender discrimination. In a controversial decision, the United States Supreme Court reversed, ruling that Ms. Ledbetter should have filed her claim within 180 days of the date that Goodyear first paid her less than her male counterparts. (For more information about the Supreme Court’s decision, please visit our blog post entitled, Supreme Court Routs Title VII in 2007: Goodyear Wins Right to Discriminate Based on Gender.)

The Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 has three key features. First, the statute not only applies to gender discrimination, but also to unequal pay based on the following types of discrimination: (a) race, color, religion, and national origin under Title VII; (b) age under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA); and (c) handicap discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Second, the statute allows employees who have suffered these types of unequal pay discrimination to recover back pay for up to two years preceding the filing of a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Third, the Act takes effect retroactively as if enacted on May 28, 2007.

The Fair Pay Act is a welcome change for employees who suffer pay discrimination. For more information on this issue please visit the New York Times article entitled,Obama Signs Equal Pay Legislation.