Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Ledbetter waited many years

Pres. Barack Obama said this at last night's debate:
OBAMA: ... And this is one of the reasons why one of the first -- the first bill I signed was something called the Lily Ledbetter bill. And it's named after this amazing woman who had been doing the same job as a man for years, found out that she was getting paid less, and the Supreme Court said that she couldn't bring suit because she should have found about it earlier, whereas she had no way of finding out about it. So we fixed that.
No, the Supreme Court did not say that Ledbetter should have found out about it earlier. Her own testimony was that she found out about it many years earlier. Hans Bader explains:
But the Supreme Court also specifically left open the possibility that employees could sue later simply because they didn’t know of the discrimination at the time — a situation it said did not apply to Ledbetter’s case (she testified in her deposition that she knew of the pay disparity in 1992, but only filed her complaint with the EEOC in 1998, around the time she retired). The Court pointedly noted that the plaintiff could have pressed her claim instead under the Equal Pay Act, which has a longer deadline for suing.
She was complaining about what a supervisor did in 1980, but she did not bring her lawsuit until after he had died.

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