Law Reinstates EEOC Position on Timeliness of Filing Wage Bias Charges
WASHINGTON - Hailing a victory for working women and all victims of pay discrimination, Stuart J. Ishimaru, the newly designated Acting Chairman of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), today congratulates Congress and President Obama on the final passage and enactment of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. The Act reinstates the EEOC's longstanding position on the timeliness of filing pay discrimination charges, a position that had been overturned by the Supreme Court's decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Inc.
The EEOC receives upward of 5,000 wage bias charge filings nationwide each year under all the statutes it enforces. The bill, signed into law today by President Obama, extends the time frame for employees to file pay discrimination cases based on the most recent allegedly discriminatory paycheck or other pay-related action, such as a decision setting a raise amount. The measure (S.181) was passed by the Senate on January 22 and approved by the House of Representatives on January 27.
"The Commission celebrates this important piece of civil rights legislation, especially because it was the first bill signed into law by President Obama," said Chairman Ishimaru. "The Act is a victory for working women and all workers across the country who are shortchanged by receiving unequal pay for performing equal work. The EEOC intends to enhance enforcement in this area, in addition to increasing public outreach and education."
The new law overturns the Supreme Court's May 2007 decision in Ledbetter, in which the Court held that the period for filing an EEOC charge of pay discrimination begins when the pay-setting decision is made and that charges under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act challenging discriminatory pay, therefore, ordinarily must be filed within 180 days of the allegedly discriminatory pay decision.
The Ledbetter Fair Pay Act states that the Supreme Court's 2007 decision is "contrary to the intent of Congress" because it "significantly impairs statutory protections against discrimination in compensation that Congress established and that have been bedrock principles of American law for decades." The Act states that with respect to pay discrimination, an unlawful employment practice occurs "each time wages, benefits, or other compensation is paid, resulting in whole or in part from [a pay] decision or other practice."
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.