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U.S. Supreme Court

Pay-Bias Ruling Good News for Corporations

Posted May 30, 2007 8:23 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Business groups are applauding yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling that makes it easier for employers to defend pay discrimination suits brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

The court held that the 180-day limit for filing a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission under Title VII begins running with the original salary decision. There is not a new violation with each new paycheck.

Workers brought nearly 40,000 pay discrimination claims from 2001 to 2006, but many Title VII cases may be barred in the future because of the Supreme Court’s ruling, according to the New York Times.

Women plaintiffs may pursue similar claims under the Equal Pay Act, which does not have a 180-day limitations period. However, the law does not permit punitive damages or cover discrimination based on race, according to the Times.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg read her dissent in the case from the bench, a rare move according to the Washington Post.

"In our view, the court does not comprehend, or is indifferent to, the insidious way in which women can be victims of pay discrimination," she said.

The ruling is good news for corporations, according to the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.). The U.S. Chamber of Commerce issued a statement saying the ruling "eliminates a potential windfall against employers by employees trying to dredge up stale pay claims."

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