Ledbetter Fair Pay Act Applied to Tenure Case

Mississippi US District Judge Tom Lee applied the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 to a Jackson State University tenure discrimination case late in April. The case is the first known application of the Act in Mississippi. Though the judge has dismissed several of the suit’s claims, the application of Ledbetter prevents the case from being dismissed due to previously legal restrictions on reporting alleged discrimination within 180 days of the first act of discrimination, reported Inside Higher Ed.

According to the Clarion Ledger, the lawsuit, filed in 2007, alleges that Dr. LaVerne Gentry was taken off tenure track after speaking out about being denied a salary increase. The suit alleges gender discrimination in denying tenure, in part because male professors at the university who also were not published had received tenure and promotions.

The Ledbetter Act corrected the Roberts Supreme Court decision (see PDF) that gutted the ability of women workers to sue for wage discrimination. The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that a wage discrimination complaint had to be filed within 180 days of the initial salary decision even if the victim is unaware of the discrimination until much later. The Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 requires that a complaint be filed within 180 days of receiving a discriminatory paycheck.


Feminist Daily Newswire 1/29/09; Clarion Ledger 4/22/09; Inside Higher Ed 5/7/09

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