Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was named for Lily Ledbetter and her case. She worked as a supervisor in Gadsen, Alabama at a Goodyear Tire Plant. Over her 20-year tenure, she had suspicions that she was being paid less than her male coworkers, but she had trouble proving it until she received an anonymous letter telling her that her male coworkers were being paid between 15 to 40 percent more than she was being paid.

After she received the letter, Ledbetter filed a complaint with the EEOC, which was a requirement before she could file a federal lawsuit against her employer.

What happened in court

The jury found in favor of Ledbetter. They found that Goodyear’s actions against her violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. She was awarded a large sum in damages. Goodyear appealed all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court overturned the verdict because it said that she had waited too long to file a complaint. Under the law at that time, Ledbetter would have only had 180 days to file a complaint from the time that she received her first paycheck that was less than those of her male peers.

The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

Congress passed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in response to her case, and it was signed into law on Jan. 29, 2009 by President Obama. Under the law, people can challenge discriminatory checks as long as they continue receiving them.

Congress acted quickly on the law’s enactment because the members felt that the decision did not make sense. It can take years before workers are able to uncover pay discrimination since many companies keep that information confidential. The decision also rewarded employers who hid their discriminatory pay practices.

Two-year limitation on back pay recovery

Under the law, you will only be able to recover two years’ worth of back pay. This makes it important to file your EEOC complaint as soon as possible. Contact the attorneys at Swartz Swidler today if you have learned that you are being paid less than people who are not members of your protected class.