DC Circuit Restricts Scope of Lilly Ledbetter Act

The federal D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision last month, in Shuler v. PriceWaterhouseCoopers, sharply restricting the scope of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which President Obama signed into law soon after entering office. The Fair Pay Act extends the timely filing deadlines for certain discriminatory employment actions, specifically those involving "discrimination in compensation." The case involved a plaintiff who was denied a promotion in 1999 and 2000 and who claimed that those decisions, which were made because of age discrimination, had continuing effects on his compensation because the promotions would have come with raises. With little analysis, the Court held that "discrimination in compensation" means "paying different wages or providing different benefits to similarly situated employees, not promoting one employee but not another to a more remunerative position." A close reading of the statute's language, purpose, and legislative history might challenge the Court's conclusion, and hopefully other courts will consider the question more carefully.