The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act: The Death of the Statute of Limitations Defense?

Source: Geoffrey S. Sheldon and James E. Oldendorph, Jr., California Public Employee Relations, no. 195, May 2009
(subscription required)

On January 29, 2009, President Barack Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 (FPA). The act overturned the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.

With the enactment of the FPA, the statute of limitations defense is dead, or at least dying, in employment discrimination claims. The FPA resets the limitations period with each paycheck issued to the employee, and whenever benefits or other compensation are paid. Employees may now resuscitate discrimination claims that involve decisions that are years or decades old so long as a plaintiff can tie that decision to the employee’s compensation. The FPA likely will lead to an enormous increase in pay discrimination claims that previously were time barred but now
have been revived due to the retroactive application of the act.

Leave a Reply