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Supreme Court Tightens Reins on Pay Discrimination Claims

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Today’s New York Times reports that in a 5-4 decision yesterday, the Supreme Court held that employees may not bring suit under the principal federal anti-discrimination law unless they have filed a formal complaint with a federal agency within 180 days after their pay was set. This decision, which does not provide for an extension of the time frame if the worker is unaware of discriminatory pay, is about as pro-business as it can get.

The court reached this decision in a case where a woman learned that she was making significantly less than her male counterparts only after 20 years of employment with the company. The court said the delay in discovery of the pay discrimination did not alter the time frame for which the woman should have filed her formal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

After a vigorous dissent by Justice Ginsburg, which she read from the bench, Justice Ginsburg invited Congress to overturn the decision, as it had 15 years ago after a series of rulings on civil rights.