WASHINGTON (Nov. 27, 2006) — The U.S. Supreme Court today heard oral arguments on whether Goodyear has to pay $360,000 in damages to a woman who had formerly been an employee at the company's factory in Gadsden, Ala.
Goodyear claims it doesn't owe Lilly Ledbetter the money because she didn't file her pay discrimination claim within the 180-day limit required by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Ms. Ledbetter's attorneys, however, insist that each paycheck she received after the original discriminatory pay review constituted a separate violation of Title VII.
The nine justices showed little bias, but asked tough questions of the attorneys on both sides. At one point Justices Antonin Scalia, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter asked a Justice Department attorney why the Bush administration had filed an amicus brief in Goodyear's favor when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was supporting Ms. Ledbetter.
Ms. Ledbetter was employed at Gadsden as a production supervisor and area manager from 1979 to 1998, and she claims that pay discrimination she suffered early in her Goodyear career was never corrected. A federal district court granted her damages, but the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the lower court.
A decision in the Ledbetter case is expected by mid-2007, when the Supreme Court typically adjourns by the Fourth of July.