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N.Y. court refuses to apply Ledbetter Act to pay disparities because of missed promotions

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law,Human Resources

When Congress passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, it sought to guarantee women who had been denied equal pay in the past fresh opportunities to challenge their lower pay with each paycheck issued.

Now a woman alleging sexual harassment and retaliation has tried to use that act to revive old claims relating to promotions. Her bid to expand the law in court failed.

Recent case: Suzanne Matthews worked for Corning in the glass-melting department and complained about alleged sexual harassment. Matthews also said she had been denied promotions because she had complained about the harassment.

She argued that each paycheck that didn’t include additional money she would have earned had she not been passed over for promotions was the basis for a lawsuit. She said the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act covered her case.

The court disagreed and threw out the claim. It explained that the Ledbetter Act was designed to give women who were unfairly paid less than men the right to sue for each paycheck that reflected the results of pay discrimination only. Congress never intended the new law to give additional time to sue to those claiming they were denied promotions after complaining about sexual harassment. (Matthews v. Corning, et al., No. 08-CV-63231, WD NY, 2010)

Online resource: The Ledbetter Fair Pay Act amends Title VII to make clear that each allegedly unfair paycheck resulting from long-standing pay bias shall be considered a fresh incident of discrimination. Learn more at www.theHRSpecialist.com/ledbetter.

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