Employment law in New Jersey is always undergoing changes as precedent setting cases are finalized. It is very important for employers and employees alike to be well aware of all applicable laws. Tayeb Hyderally, an expert at employment law NJ, makes it a priority to help keep business personnel aware of changes in employment law. This is a key way to protect both employees and employers. One of the most controversial decisions in the world of employment law was Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Inc. It is a primary example of how lack of knowledge can end up costing in the end.
Ms. Ledbetter was employed by Goodyear in Gadsden, Alabama where she worked in a supervisory capacity. When she first began her employment, her wages were at the same rate as male workers with the same responsibilities. However, after 20 years of service, there was a great disparity between her wages and male colleagues. Ms. Ledbetter came to the understanding that she made around $15,000 less each year. By this time she was making substantially less than new hires. When she became aware of the unfair wages she filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The jury awarded Ms. Ledbetter $3.5 million for damages. However, the district judge reduced this amount to $360,000.
Although the disparity in pay had occurred over a 20 year period, there were limitations that she was not aware of which caused her problems within her case. Title VII clearly states that all complaints must be filed within a 180 day window from the time the discriminatory act occurs. Goodyear appealed the initial decision and noted that the jury was not allowed to consider the wage discrepancies that occurred before the 180 days prior to filing her complaint. This meant that even though discriminatory practices did indeed occur over a period of time that spanned almost 20 years, it could not be considered since she had failed to file a complaint after each occurrence. The U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit agreed with Goodyear’s reasoning. Therefore they could not take into consideration the fact that she was unaware of the disparity for that period of time.
According to Title VII’s 180 day limitations, each time there is a discriminatory action on the part of an employer, a separate EEOC charge must be filed. The purpose of this short deadline for filing with the EEOC is meant to offer a prompt resolution for discrimination by employers. Its intent was to make sure that discriminatory actions could be quickly resolved and penalized to prevent further occurrences. The jury could not take into consideration that Ms. Ledbetter had no knowledge of the wage discrepancies until the time at which she filed her complaint.
Ledbetter v. Goodyear is a prime example of how important it is for employees to be fully aware of their rights and responsibilities concerning employment law.