Media for Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber CompanyAudio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 27, 2006 in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company
Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - May 29, 2007 in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company
Ruth Bader Ginsburg:
Ledbetter’s pay was 15% to 40% less than every other Area Manager.
Ledbetter complained to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in March 1998, she charged that in violations of Title VII, Goodyear paid her a discriminatorily low salary because of her sex.
The charge was eventually were to court and tried to a jury.
The jury found it more likely than not that Goodyear paid Ledbetter an unequal salary because of her sex.
The court today nullifies that verdict holding that Ledbetter’s claim is time barred.
Title VII provides that a charge of discrimination shall be filed within 180 days after the alleged unlawful employment practice occurred.
Ledbetter charged and proved at trial that the pay checks she received within the 180 day filing period were substantially lower than the pay checks received by men doing the same work.
Further, she introduced substantial evidence showing that discrimination accounted for the pay differential indeed that discrimination against women as supervisors was pervasive at Goodyear’s plant.
That evidence was unavailing, the court holds because it was incumbent on Ledbetter to file charges of discrimination year by year.
Each time Goodyear failed to increase her salary, commensurate with the salaries of her male peers.
Any annual pay decision not contested properly within the 180 days.
The court affirm, becomes grandfathered beyond the province of Title VII ever to repair.
Title VII was meant to govern real world employment practices and that world is what the court ignores today.
Pay disparities often occur as they did in Ledbetter’s case in small increments only overtime is their strong cause to suspect that discrimination is at work.
Comparative pay information is not routinely communicated to employees instead it is often hidden from the employees view.
Moral initial discrepancies, even if the employee knows they exist may not be seen as ground for a federal case.
An employee like Ledbetter trying to succeed in a male dominated workplace in a job filled only by men before she was hired, understandably maybe anxious to avoid making leaves.
Pay discrimination that recurs and swells an impact is significantly different from discrete address actions properly communicated and easy to identify at discriminatory.
Events in that category include firing, denial of a promotion or refusal to hire.
In contrast to those unambiguous actions until a pay disparity becomes apparent and sizeable, an employee is unlikely to comprehend her plight and therefore to complain about it.
Ledbetter’s initial readiness to give her employer the benefit of the doubt, she is not preclude her from later seeking redress for the continuing payment to her of the salary depress because of her sex.
As the court reads Title VII, each and every pay decision Ledbetter did not properly challenge, wiped the slate clean.
Never mind the cumulative effect of a series of decisions that together, set her pay well below that of every male Area Manager.
Knowingly carrying past pay discrimination forward must be treated as lawful.
Ledbetter may not be compensated under Title VII for the lower pay she was in fact receiving when she complained to the EEOC.
Notably, the same denial of release would occur at Ledbetter encountered pay discrimination based on race, religion, age, national origin or disability.
This is not the first time this court has ordered a cramped interpretation of Title VII, incompatible with the statutes broad remedial purpose.
In 1991, Congress passed a Civil Rights Act that effectively overruled several of this courts similarly restrictive decisions including one on which the court relies today.
Today, the ball again lies in Congress’ court as in 1991 the legislature has caused to note and to correct this court’s parsimonious reading of Title VII.