A change to pay discrimination claims is gaining support. On June 27, the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee approved a bill to change the current statute of limitations on pay discrimination claims that can be brought by employees. By a party-line vote of 25 to 20, the Committee passed H.R. 2831, the "Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act," which is intended to overrule the recent Supreme Court decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.
The Ledbetterdecisionissued in May 2007 was a landmark case in employment law. Shortly after retiring in 1998, former Goodyear employee Lilly Ledbetter filed a pay discrimination claim with the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which requires employees to bring such claims within 180 days (if the employee's home state has no equal employment agency) or 300 days (if the employee's home state has a equal employment agency) of the alleged unlawful employment practice. Ledbetter had asserted that her gender had been the central factor in several unsatisfactory performance evaluations she received that led to her earning lower wages.
Ledbetter's case advanced all the way to the Supreme Court, which decided on May 29, 2007 that, while Ledbetter had in fact been discriminated against, she had not brought her claim within the time period provided by the statute of limitations. Specifically, the Court stated that "later effects of past discrimination do not restart the clock for filing an EEOC charge."
In essence, the Court held that the act of issuing paychecks cannot be challenged as a discriminatory act; rather, the basis of an actionable claim can be the decision to set compensation rates. Therefore, the time limit for filing a charge with the EEOC is not extended upon the receipt of each successive paycheck.
SHRM signed a letterwith other HR associations and employers expressing fervent opposition to any form of unlawful employment discrimination. The letter also conveyed opposition to H.R. 2831 because the legislation constitutes an overreach of the Ledbetter case and would allow for a limitless time period to pursue pay discrimination claims.