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Discrimination in pay

President Bush's impact on the U S Supreme Court was apparent on May 30, 2007, when his new appointments formed a 5-4 majority that rejected a woman's lawsuit over a disparity in pay.  Lilly Ledbetter was the only woman among 16 men at the same management level with a Goodyear Tire plant in Alabama.  She was the lowest paid manager, despite having more seniority than several of her peers.  The disparity in pay was as much as forty percent, as she earned $3727.00 per month and the lowest-paid man earned $4286 per month.

Goodyear conceded that Ledbetter did not learn of this disparity until late in her twenty-year career with the company.  The Civil Rights Commission and the Federal District Court agreed that she was within her rights to sue over the disparity when she belatedly learned of it.  A jury awarded her back pay.  The Supreme Court majority, including Bush's new appointments, and Justices Thomas, Kennedy and Scalia, held that Ledbetter was barred from bringing her action because she didn't sue within 180 days of the first disparate pay increase--even though she was unaware of the disparity at the time.

The opinion written by new Justice Alito--who replaced Sandra Day O'Connor and reversed her probable vote--held that Ledbetter could not base her claim "on the cumulative effect of individual acts", despite their substantial and unfair impact on her.  Justice Ginsberg's dissent, with four Justices signing, stressed the unfairness and impractical aspects of the majority's decision and pointed out that it will be up to the Congress to re-write Title VII to address the Supreme Court majority's overly-constricted interpretation.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
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Traverse City, Michigan 49684
Toll Free: 1-800-678-1307
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