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Check your records! Some old pay-bias cases get new life under Ledbetter law

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in Compensation and Benefits,Human Resources

When President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act nearly a year ago, some employees got an additional chance to press their pay discrimination claims.

That’s because the new law covers Equal Pay Act (EPA) claims pending at the EEOC or in federal court as of May 28, 2007.

Recent case: Theresa Hester sued her employer for pay discrimination, alleging she was paid less than males doing the same work. After the Supreme Court decided the Lilly Ledbetter case, a district court dismissed her case.

She appealed several aspects of the case.

Meanwhile, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act went into effect. Now the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has reinstated her EPA claim because it was filed and pending before May 28, 2007. (Hester v. North Alabama Center for Educational Excellence, No. 08-17037, 11th Cir., 2009)

Final notes: If you haven’t already done so, now’s the time to review your compensation program to check for hidden sex bias. Brush up on the EPA and the factors you can use to justify different salary offers for some applicants. Common and perfectly legitimate factors include educational levels, experience and specialized training. Essentially, you may use any factor except sex to justify salary differentials. Carefully document all factors that went into setting the salary offer at the time you made the decision. Show how much weight you gave to each factor in arriving at an offer figure.

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