Gender Wage, Gender Pay Discrimination

     Women today are paid, on average, only 77 cents for every dollar paid to men. And the gap is even worse for women of color – African American women earn only 64 cents and Latina women earn only 55 cents for each dollar earned by males.

     The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 is a federal statute in the United States that was the first bill signed into law by President Barack Obama on January 29, 2009. The Act amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The new act states that the 180-day statute of limitations for filing an equal-pay lawsuit regarding pay discrimination resets with each new paycheck affected by that discriminatory action. The law directly addressed Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 550 U.S. 618 (2007), a U.S. Supreme Court decision that the statute of limitations for presenting an equal-pay lawsuit begins on the date that the employer makes the initial discriminatory wage decision, not at the date of the most recent paycheck

     Lilly Ledbetter was one of the few female supervisors at the Goodyear plant in Gadsden, Alabama, and worked there for close to two decades. Ms. Ledbetter did not know she was the subject of pay discrimination until she received an anonymous note revealing the salaries of three of the male managers. After she filed a complaint with the EEOC, her case went to trial, and the jury awarded her back-pay and approximately $3.3 million in compensatory and punitive damages for the extreme nature of the pay discrimination to which she had been subjected.

The Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reversed the jury verdict, holding that her case was filed too late – even though Ms. Ledbetter continued to receive discriminatory pay – because the company’s original decision on her pay had been made years earlier. The Supreme Court upheld the Eleventh Circuit decision.