Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.

Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.

Supreme Court of the United States

November 27, 2006, Argued ; May 29, 2007, Decided

No. 05-1074


 [*621]   [**2165] Justice Alito delivered the opinion of the Court.

This [****7]  case calls upon us to apply established precedent in a slightly different context. We have previously held that HN1[] LEdHN[1][] [1] the time for filing a charge of employment discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) begins when the discriminatory act occurs. We have explained that this rule applies to any "[d]iscrete ac[t]" of discrimination, including discrimination in "termination, failure to promote, denial of transfer, [and] refusal to hire." National Railroad Passenger Corporation v. Morgan, 536 U.S. 101, 114, 122 S. Ct. 2061, 153 L. Ed. 2d 106 (2002). Because a pay-setting decision is a "discrete act," it follows that the period for filing an EEOC charge begins when the act occurs. Petitioner, having abandoned her claim under the Equal Pay Act, asks us to deviate from our prior decisions in order to permit her to assert her claim under Title VII. Petitioner also contends that discrimination in pay is different from other types of employment discrimination and thus should be governed by a different rule. But because a pay-setting decision is a discrete act that occurs at a particular point in time, these arguments must be rejected. We therefore affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals.

 [****8] I

Petitioner Lilly Ledbetter (Ledbetter) worked for respondent Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company (Goodyear) at its Gadsden, Alabama, plant from 1979 until 1998. During much of this time, salaried employees at the plant were given or denied raises based on their supervisors' evaluation of their performance. In March 1998, Ledbetter submitted a questionnaire to the EEOC alleging certain acts of sex discrimination, and in July of that year she filed a formal EEOC charge. After taking early retirement in November 1998, [*622]  Ledbetter commenced this action, in which she asserted, among other claims, a Title VII pay discrimination claim and a claim under the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA), 77 Stat. 56, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d).

The District Court granted summary judgment in favor of Goodyear on several of Ledbetter's claims, including her EPA claim, but allowed others, including her Title VII pay discrimination claim, to proceed to trial. In support of this latter claim, Ledbetter introduced evidence that during the course of her employment several  [**2166]  supervisors had given her poor evaluations because of her sex, that as a result of these evaluations her pay was not increased as much [****9]  as it would have been if she had been evaluated fairly, and that these past pay decisions continued to affect the amount of her pay throughout her employment. Toward the end of her time with Goodyear, she was being paid significantly less than any of her male colleagues. Goodyear maintained that the evaluations had been nondiscriminatory, but the jury found  [***989] for Ledbetter and awarded her backpay and damages.

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550 U.S. 618 *; 127 S. Ct. 2162 **; 167 L. Ed. 2d 982 ***; 2007 U.S. LEXIS 6295 ****; 75 U.S.L.W. 4359; 100 Fair Empl. Prac. Cas. (BNA) 1025; 89 Empl. Prac. Dec. (CCH) P42,827; 20 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 295



Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Inc., 421 F.3d 1169, 2005 U.S. App. LEXIS 18026 (11th Cir. Ala., 2005)

Disposition: The judgment of the Eleventh Circuit was affirmed.

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Labor & Employment Law, Civil Actions, Time Limitations, General Overview, Gender & Sex Discrimination, Employment Practices, Compensation, Title VII Discrimination, Statute of Limitations, Begins to Run, Continuing Violations, Disparate Treatment, Evidence, Discrimination, Harassment, Adverse Employment Actions