Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Ticking Clock On Pay Discrimination

By Barbara Arnwine

Look around your office. Do you know what your co-workers are really being paid? Probably not. A recent survey found that only 10 percent of companies have pay openness policies. And if you were paid less by your employer simply because you are female how long do you think it would take to find out? Probably not until you’ve been working there a long time, maybe years.

That is exactly what happened to Lilly Ledbetter. Her employer, Goodyear, kept compensation information confidential and it wasn’t until decades after the fact she found out that she was being paid less. By the time of her retirement, she was paid $3,727 monthly, while the lowest paid male doing the same job was paid $4,286. Taking her employer to court, a jury found that she received raises less frequently than her male colleagues because of her gender. The jury awarded her damages for this intentional discrimination, but on appeal to the Supreme Court earlier this year, a majority tossed out the award because Ms. Ledbetter failed to file her claim within 180 days of her employer’s discriminatory decisions – decisions she didn’t have reason to suspect until long after they were made.

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