Adjunct Law Prof Blog

Editor: Mitchell H. Rubinstein
New York Law School

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Supreme Court Holds Title VII Statute of Limitations Accures When Discriminatory Pay Decision Occurred; As Opposed To When An Employee Is Paid

In Lebetter v. Goodyear, 550 U.S. __(May 29, 2007), the Supreme Court issued a  5-4 decision holding that the 180/300 day time period to file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC runs from the date the discriminatory decision was initially made as opposed to when the employee actually received her paycheck. Once you know this result, most could probably predict that the majority opinion would be written by Justice Alito and that the dissent was written by Justice Ginsburg-who by the way, is a former Title VII scholar.

The majority, however, strongly suggests that the result may have been different if this case was brought under the Equal Pay Act of 1963, instead of Title VII. Presumably, this is because the Equal Pay Act does not have any administrative filing requirement. Unfortunately, the Court did not supply much analysis in this regard. Query whether the analysis in this case is applicable to other statutes-employment or otherwise-that do not have administrative filing requirements.

I will leave it to others to extensively summarize the importance of this case. Professor Paul M Secunda one of the Editors of the Workplace Professor Blog, a blog that I cite to and read often, did a nice job distinguishing between the majority and dissenting opinions and putting this important decision into perspective in his posting entitled "Some Reflections on the Ledbetter Decision"

What I find most interesting is the difference in writing style between Justices Alito and Ginsburg. Justice Ginsburg's dissent was simply more scholarly and better written. In fact, she cited to a law review article, the Sullivan, Zimmer and White Casebook on Employment Discrimination and to an Employment Discrimination treatise by Schlei and Grossman.

Update: May 30, 2007

The Associated Press is reporting that Democratics in Congress are going to try to legislativelyl overule Ledbetter decision. Details here.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein    

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