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US House extends statutory limits on pay discrimination cases

[JURIST] The US House voted 225-199 [roll call] Tuesday to extend the deadline for employees to sue their employer for payment discrimination. The new legislation, the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2007 [HR 2831 materials], would allow employees to sue within 180 days of their last affected paychecks, effectively reversing the ruling of the US Supreme Court in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. [text; JURIST report]. The Bush administration has threatened to veto the measure [PDF text], saying it "would allow employees to bring a claim of pay or other employment-related discrimination years or even decades after the alleged discrimination occurred."

In May, the US Supreme Court ruled that an employee cannot bring a lawsuit for pay discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 [text] for allegedly discriminatory actions that occurred outside the statutory limitations period even when a paycheck is received during the statutory limitations period. Lilly Ledbetter, who worked at Goodyear for 19 years, alleged that she received less pay than male counterparts because of sex discrimination. The district court awarded Ledbetter $360,000 in damages but the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reversed [opinion, PDF], holding that the district court should have granted Goodyear's motion for judgment as a matter of law because the statute required Ledbetter to file her complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) [official website] within six months of the alleged illegal employment practice. The Supreme Court affirmed the federal appeals court, rejecting Ledbetter's argument that each paycheck issued violated Title VII, triggering a new six-month EEOC filing period. AP has more.

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