Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 USC 2000e, makes it unlawful for an employer to hire or discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his/her compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment, because of an individuals race, color, religion, sex or national origin. This covers hiring, firing, promotions and all workplace conduct.
Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. Lily Ledbetter was an employee for Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. from 1979-1998. She began looking into pay discrimination in March of 1998. She finally made a federal suit the following November.
Findings 5 Judges found that, The EEOC charging period is triggered when a discrete unlawful practice takes place. A new violation does not occur, and a new charging period does not commence, upon the occurrence of subsequent nondiscriminatory acts that entail adverse effect resulting from the past discrimination. Thus, it rejected Ledbetters argument that each paycheck she received violated Title The EEOC charging period is triggered when a discrete unlawful practice takes place. A new violation does not occur, and a new charging V peII a rio n d d trig does g n e o red t co a mmnee n w ce EE , u O po C n chargin the occu g rre p n eriod ce of .s Th ubse m equ a e jnot rity non n dio s ted criminatory acts that entail adverse effect resulting from the past discrimination. Thus, it rejected Ledbetters argument that each paycheck she received violated Title VII and triggered a new EEOC th ch at, rg cu ing rr p ent erio e d. ff Te h ct e s a ma lon jorit e y c n a otnn ed o t th b atr,e a c the l urrenitfe i eff n e to cts p r a ior, unch lone cann a otr g b ed rea the life into prior, uncharged discrimination. Rather: Ledbetter should have filed an EEOC charge within 180 days after each allegedly discriminatory pay decision was made and discrim commu in ni ati cat o e n d .t R o h a e th r. e S r h: Le e di d d bet not t e d r o sho o, u a l nd h t a h ve e pa filed ych an ecks E thEO at C we re issued to her during the 180 days prior to the filing of her EEOC charge do not provide a basis for overcoming that prior failure. charge within 180 days after each al egedly discriminatory pay decision was made and communicated to her. She did not do so, and the paychecks that were issued to her during the 180 days prior to the filing of her EEOC charge do not provide a basis for overcoming that prior failure.
Continued But four argued, Four Justices disagreed with the majoritys opinion and issued a dissent. They would have allowed Ledbetter to recover for pay discrimination, explaining: The Courts insistence on immediate contest overlooks common characteristics of pay discrimination. Pay disparities often occur, as they did in Ledbetters case, in small increments; cause to suspect that discrimination is at work develops only over time. Comparative pay information, moreover, is often hidden from the employees view. Employers may keep under wraps the pay differentials maintained among supervisors, no less the reasons for those differentials. Small initial discrepancies may not be seen as meet for a federal case, particularly when the employee, trying to succeed in a nontraditional environment, is averse to making waves. The dissenters also stated: The problem of concealed pay discrimination is particularly acute where the disparity arises not because the female employee is flatly denied a raise but because male counterparts are given larger raises. Having received a pay increase, the female employee is unlikely to discern at once that she has experienced an adverse employment decision. She may have little reason even to suspect discrimination until a pattern develops incrementally and she ultimately becomes aware of the disparity. Even if an employee suspects that the reason for a comparatively low raise is not performance but sex (or another protected ground), the amount involved may seem too small, or the employers intent too ambiguous, to make the issue immediately actionable or winnable.
Justice In a majority decision that turns our understanding of employment discrimination on its head, the Court ruled that a Title VII complaint must be filed within 180 days of the specific action that sets discriminatory pay, regardless of its ongoing and continuing discriminatory impact on the employee. As a result, many victims of pay discrimination wil be left without an effective remedy, even though their rights have been violated.