The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed an earlier decision made just months ago and ruled that when a woman asks for a raise to equal her male counterpart’s pay, ignoring the request is the same as denying the request.
The employee may then file a Title VII pay discrimination claim with the EEOC or state agency within 300 days and then take her pay claim to court, even if the alleged discrimination dates back to her original hiring.
Recent case: Mary Lou Mikula worked for a county government as a grants coordinator. After several years on the job, she discovered that a male holding a similar job was paid about $7,000 more per year than she was.
She complained to HR and asked for equal pay, but heard nothing back. Several years later, she again complained. This time, HR looked into it and told her that an investigation revealed no discrimination.
Mikula then filed an EEOC and state discrimination complaint.
Her case was kicked back and forth as the U.S. Supreme Court decided the Ledbetter case. Then Congress overruled Ledbetter by passing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
The appeals court concluded that Mikula could pursue her pay claims based on each paycheck going back 300 days before her EEOC complaint was filed—but no further. (Mikula v. Allegheny County, No. 07-4023, 3rd Cir., 2009)
Final note: Expect more pay discrimination claims in the next few years as employees and their lawyers find ways to take advantage of the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
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- Come down hard on supervisors: No telling employees to drop discrimination complaints
- Regularly review wage-and-hour compliance