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Ledbetter bill passed by Congress

On January 27, Congress approved passage of a civil rights bill that will overturn the much-criticized 2008 decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Ledbetter v. Goodyear.  That decision eliminated many discrimination claims before the victim was aware even became aware that an illegal action had been perpetrated.  Near the end of 2008, Congress passed another act, repudiating decisions by the Supreme Court which had greatly limited the breadth of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Lilly Ledbetter retired from Goodyear with a substantially smaller pension than all of her male peers after a lifetime of discriminatory payment.  She did not learn of the difference in compensation, however, until she retired; and the trial judge allowed her case to go to the jury, which awarded her substantial compensation to make up the difference between her pay and the pay of male peers.  The Supreme Court threw out her verdict (5-4), acknowledging that she was unaware of the discrimination, but holding that she was required to file her suit within 180 days of the first discriminatory act (which occurred more than twenty years ago with the first unequal paycheck).  The Congress amended Title VII to make it clear that each diminished paycheck is a new violation of the law, if it resulted from past discrimination:  this relaxes the time constraints on a victim seeking recompense.

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