Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Elections Do Matter

A couple of years ago, the Supreme Court held that the 180-day limitations period for pay discrimination claims ran from the date that the employee receives her paycheck. This was true whether or not the employee knew that she was being paid less than her male counterparts. The case was Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. Orin Kerr thinks it was a close call.

Justice Ginsburg dissented at the time and didn't think it was such a close call. Toward the end of her dissent, she wrote: "This is not the first time the Court has ordered a cramped interpretation of Title VII, incompatible with the statute's broad purpose. Once again, the ball is in Congress' court. As in 1991, the Legislature may act to correct this Court's parsimonious reading of Title VII."

That is exactly what happened today. Congress didn't just reverse the holding of the Ledbetter case, it kicked the case where it hurts. The law applies to all cases filed since the day before the Court decided Ledbetter. And in one of the whereas clauses, Congress states that the decision "ignores the reality of wage discrimination and is at odds with the robust application of the civil rights laws that Congress intended."

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