EEOC Notice Concerning the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

By George Miller

On August 12, 2009, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission posted on its website a Notice Concerning the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.  The Notice states in part that, “. . . each paycheck that delivers discriminatory compensation is a wrong actionable under the federal EEO statutes, regardless of when the discrimination began.” 

The EEOC gives the example of an employee who has worked for a company for nearly ten years as a production supervisor and then learns that she is being paid less than the other four production supervisors in her department, who are all men.  She then files a charge of discrimination with the EEOC, alleging sex-based wage discrimination in violation of Title VII.  The EEOC’s investigation shows that she generally received lower pay raises than her male counterparts as the result of lower performance ratings, although these performance ratings and related pay raises all occurred so long ago that any charge concerning them would be barred by the statute of limitations.  However, since they affected her pay within the normal three hundred day filing period, she could pursue a timely case of discrimination relating to pay discrimination within the filing period.

The EEOC’s Notice advises potential charging parties that if they are aware of “unexplained” differences between their own compensation and coworkers’ compensation and believe that the difference is because of their race, color, or religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability, they should call the EEOC for more information on filing a charge with the EEOC. 

The EEOC’s encouragement to the public to contact them over even “unexplained” differences in compensation may result in a surge of charges against employers alleging wage discrimination.