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Supreme Court to Decide If Ledbetter Applies to Firefighter Discrimination Claim

The Supreme Court heard a racial discrimination case Monday where they might apply the Ledbetter Act for the first time in a Supreme Court decision . In the current case, a group of minority applicants to Chicago’s fire department are suing the city under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, claiming that “the test had a disparate impact on black applicants and was not a valid test of firefighting aptitude.” According to the United Press International, the complaint needed to be filed no more than 300 days after the test takers were informed of their scores. The plaintiffs’ attorneys had assumed the clock was re-started after every hire made based on the test scores and complaints were filed more than 400 days later. It is expected that the Court will base its decision off of the Lilly Ledbetter Act, which corrects the Roberts Supreme Court decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company (see PDF) that gutted the ability of women workers to sue for wage discrimination. The Act applies not only to women, but to all workers who are victims of wage discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, national origin, age, or disability. Ledbetter worked for Goodyear for 19 years before discovering that she was paid significantly less than her male counterparts with the same or less experience. The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the 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 Act specifies that the time period for filing a complaint restarts with each instance of discrimination.

Sources:

Lewis v. City of Chicago; United Press International2/17/2010; Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company; Feminist Daily Newswire 1/29/2009

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