By Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment, and Kavitha Sivashanker, Fellow, National Women's Law Center
A year ago today, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 (pictured left). The law overturned the disastrous Supreme Court decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.
The Act explicitly provides that "an unlawful employment practice occurs ... when a discriminatory compensation decision or other practice is adopted, when an individual becomes subject to a discriminatory compensation decision or other practice, or when an individual is affected by application of a discriminatory compensation decision or other practice, including each time wages, benefits, or other compensation is paid" as a result of such a practice.
In the past year, courts around the country have implemented the Act as Congress intended for straightforward pay discrimination cases. In cases involving pay discrimination based on sex, race, disability, and age, these courts have recognized that the statute of limitations is renewed with each paycheck marred by discrimination.
But not every plaintiff has had their pay discrimination case restored by the Act, and there are a few thorny implementation issues that have emerged which courts will continue to flesh out. So where do we currently stand with the Ledbetter Act? One year later, our assessment is that while the Ledbetter Act was a true, hard-won victory for women and families, it is only the first step towards addressing pay disparities for women.