White House: Expect a Veto on Ledbetter Pay Act

By April 23, 2008Briefly Legal, Human Resources

The White House yesterday released its Statement of Administration Policy on H.R. 2831, the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Expect a veto, the Senate is told.

H.R. 2831 purports to undo the Supreme Court’s decision of May 29, 2007, in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. by permitting pay discrimination claims to be brought within 180 days not of a discriminatory pay decision, which is the rule under current law, but rather within 180 days of receiving any paycheck affected by such a decision, no matter how far in the past the underlying act of discrimination allegedly occurred. As a result, this legislation effectively eliminates any time requirement for filing a claim involving compensation discrimination. Allegations from 30 years ago or more could be resurrected and filed in federal courts.

Moreover, the bill far exceeds the stated purpose of undoing the Court’s decision in Ledbetter by extending the expanded statute of limitations to any “other practice” that remotely affects an individual’s wages, benefits, or other compensation in the future. This could effectively waive the statute of limitations for a wide variety of claims (such as promotion and arguably even termination decisions) traditionally regarded as actionable only when they occur.

This legislation does not appear to be based on evidence that the current statute of limitations principles have caused any systemic prejudice to the interests of employees, but it is reasonable
to expect the bill’s vastly expanded statute of limitations would exacerbate the existing heavy burden on the courts by encouraging the filing of stale claims.

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