Professor Deborah Brake has published part two of a FindLaw series on Ledbetter v. Goodyear. Part one is blogged here.
Today, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Ledbetter v. Goodyear, a case that will determine how to apply Title VII's statute of limitations to claims of gender discrimination in pay. As we wrote in the first column in this series, the Court is reviewing a ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit that is extremely hostile to victims of pay discrimination. Under the ruling, a claimant cannot challenge a discriminatory paycheck unless the decision to pay her less because of sex occurred within the last 180 days, or was the most recent pay decision prior to that time. Thus, discriminatory paychecks attributable to earlier decisions are, under this ruling, immune from challenge.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency charged with the interpretation and application of Title VII, disagrees with the Eleventh Circuit. But, disappointingly, the United States Solicitor General has disagreed with the EEOC - taking a position that, if accepted, would cripple the agency's ability to enforce Title VII in the pay-discrimination context. The Solicitor General's position, even more disappointingly, is even more draconian that the harsh position the Eleventh Circuit adopted.
If the Supreme Court upholds the Eleventh Circuit's ruling or, worse still, adopts the Solicitor General's view, its decision will predictably harm many victims of blatant pay discrimination, and, more broadly, will exacerbate the gender-based wage gap that currently exists in America.