In a decision with major implications for employers, on Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court held that old allegations of discrimination that impact current pay are not actionable under Title VII if the plaintiff did not file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC within 180 days of the last alleged intentional act. The case, Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., involved a sex discrimination claim by a long-term Goodyear She claimed that years ago, she received poor evaluations due to gender bias that resulted in compounded differences in current pay between her and her male counterparts. Goodyear replied that the plaintiff’s claims were untimely because she never filed an EEOC charge within 180 days of the evaluations. Ms. Ledbetter countered that each new paycheck constituted a new discriminatory act. employee.
The Supreme Court affirmed the appellate court’s decision for Goodyear in a 5-4 decision. The Court concluded that the plaintiff had not met Title VII’s filing limitations period, because she had not filed an EEOC charge within 180 days of any act of intentional discrimination. The Court noted that Ms. LedbetterGoodyear pay system was in and of itself discriminatory. It only reflected the effects of old discriminatory acts: “Current effects alone cannot breathe life into prior, uncharged discrimination.” Ms. Ledbetter had the opportunity to file EEOC charges after each performance evaluation, but did not do so. never alleged that the
Had the Court held for the plaintiff, it would have given plaintiffs the ability to sue for alleged current effects of old actions. In its opinion, the Court appeared very aware of this impact on employers. It directly noted that Congressional intent behind Title VII’s enforcement scheme was to quickly resolve claims of alleged discrimination. This decision should shield employers from claims based upon alleged acts that occurred well in the past.