Episode 4: Leading the Way to Equal Pay: A Discussion of Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Inc.
In Episode 4 of Notorious, we address the case of Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. Decided in 2007, Ledbetter addressed the issue of gender discrimination in the context of equal pay. Writing for a 5-4 majority of the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Alito found that employers cannot be sued under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 over race or gender pay discrimination if the claims are based on decisions made by the employer 180 days ago or more. Thus, the Court rejected Ledbetter’s argument that her lack of equal pay was cumulative over her career at Goodyear.
Troubled by the majority decision, Justice Ginsburg, the then sole female justice on the Court, wrote the dissent and made a point of reading it from the bench, a rare practice. Joined by Justices Stevens, Souter, and Breyer, Justice Ginsburg argued against applying the 180-day limit to pay discrimination, because discrimination often occurs in small increments over large periods of time, i.e., cumulatively. Ginsburg argued that pay discrimination is inherently different from adverse actions, such as termination.
Kathleen Boozang, Dean of Seton Hall University School of Law, joined by Patterson Belknap attorneys Michelle Bufano, Leigh Barnwell and Sara Arrow, discuss the different views expressed by the majority and dissent, as well as relating the issues raised in the case to past and subsequent events, including the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. The first of legislation signed into law by the newly inaugurated President Obama, this law overturned the majority’s decision.
Thank you for listening to our podcast and bearing with us as we navigate remote recording.
For a selection of Justice Ginsburg’s writings, see Decisions and Dissents of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Selection, edited by Corey Brettschneider.
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