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Lilly Ledbetter Act

Also known as: Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

Barack Obama

Signed into law by Barack Obama
January 29, 2009

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a landmark piece of civil rights legislation that outlawed major forms of discrimination based on, among other things, gender. In most cases, claims under Title VII have a 180 day statute of limitations. This means that individual claiming discrimination under Title VII have only 180 days to file a claim. This had a very detrimental effect on employees who wanted to bring claims for unequal pay. Essentially, the Supreme Court interpreted this statute of limitations to mean that an employee – typically a female – could not bring a claim for unequal pay if the initial decision about the unequal pay (usually at the time of hire) occurred more than 180 days earlier.

The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act amended Title VII so that the statute of limitations begins at the date of the most recent paycheck and not at the time the employee was initially hired.

Enforcement & Remedies

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the first step in enforcing Title VII. An employee who believes that he or she has been discriminated against in violation of Title VII must first pursue his or her claims with the EEOC. After pursuing a Title VII claim with the EEOC, the employee may file a civil lawsuit against the employer. Remedies available to an employee who is discriminated against in violation of the Title VII include back pay, compensatory damages, and punitive damages. Title VII sets caps on the amount of compensatory and punitive damages which vary by the size of the employer.

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