Ledbetter v. Goodyear Explained

Politicians and even some fact checkers seem to have a hard time understanding the Supreme Court’s decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., suggesting legislation was necessary to ensure women could challenge past discriminatory pay treatment that was only recently discovered. But as I’ve noted before, the Ledbetter decision had nothing to do with when the alleged pay disparities were discovered. Rather, it was about when the relevant statute of limitations would begin to run — when the allegedly discriminatory pay decision was made or with each paycheck that embodied the discriminatory treatment.

Attorney Victoria Toensing has an op-ed in today’s WSJ making this point, and noting that Lilly Ledbetter herself has often misrepresented the facts of her own case, falsely claiming she didn’t file suit until she discovered the alleged discrimination. Her own sworn deposition from the case says otherwise. Toensing further notes that the Supreme Court decision faithfully applied the rule from United Airlines v. Evans (a 1977 decision written by Justice Stevens) and did not decide whether the statute of limitations would run before discovery of the allegedly disparate treatment.