WASHINGTON (May 29) — A Goodyear employee missed her chance to sue the tire firm over gender-based pay inequalities, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled 5-4.
Lilly M. Ledbetter, a retired supervisor at Goodyear´s Gadsden, Ala. plant, claimed that discrimination in her earliest salary reviews at the plant caused her to be paid 15 percent less than the lowest paid male supervisor in the plant by the time she retired in 1998.
Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the majority, said the high court has held consistently that claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act are invalid if the employee doesn´t file a complaint within 180 days of the discriminatory act, and future decisions can´t be construed as continuations of the original violation.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for the minority, said the majority decision overlooks common characteristics of pay discrimination.
"Pay disparities often occur, as they did in Ledbetter´s case, in small increments," Ginsburg wrote. "Cause to suspect that discrimination is at work develops only over time."
Goodyear officials couldn´t immediately be reached for comment, but both the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business said they were delighted with the ruling and that allowing an employee to wait years before filing a disparate pay claim would be unfair to the defendant business.
But Kevin K. Russell, Ledbetter´s attorney, said the decision ignores that workers often don´t find out for years about pay discrimination.