Title VII loses its legs

The NYT leads with the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision restricting employees ability to sue their employers based on discrimination. Plaintiffs now have no more than 180 days to file a complaint after a deemed insufficient, discriminatory pay-raise is given.

Problem is, many critics say, including Justice Ruth Ginsburg who made the unusually aggressive move and read her dissent from the bench, that the ruling, which defines more clearly a law called Title VII, part of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, doesn’t give employees enough time to accumulate evidence of discrimination. Who knows? Maybe if a woman receives a lesser pay raise than her male counterpart, she was doing a poorer job. But wouldn’t she need this to happen a few times — over a few years — for her to decide that the lesser pay really was sexist?

Too bad, the SupCourt says. T-minus 180 days after only the first pay raise discrepancy. Then, deal.

Critics also claim the ruling denies basic realities of the workplace. Namely, employees don’t readily discuss salaries among one another, so once someone finds out that their pay is, perhaps, reduced because of race, religion, or gender discrimination, it may already be too late.

Good criticism, all. But the Supreme Court is dealing with a real problem. Between 2001 and 2006, the Times story writes up high, there were nearly 40,000 worker discrimination suits filed across the country. Surely discrimination is a problem, but you really think all those cases are valid? Not me.

Still, the Supremes obviously chose the case that they did for a reason. The plaintiff, a female manager at a Goodyear tire plant in Georgia, filed her first suit with an Atlanta court in 1998. Her claims were based off of pay discrimination from the early 1980s.

That 15-year-or-so gap made it all to easy for the Supreme Court to make its ruling. If it’s not obvious, it’s at least reasonable for judges to be wary of cases brought 15 years after the fact.

Oddly, the Court’s ruling may have the opposite effect that the majority justices hope for. If workers now even suspect discrimination, they might jump at the bid knowing that they only have 180 days to do so. If courts around the country see an uptick in discrimination charges, we’ll know who to thank.

In other news, the Journal leads its newsbox with the kidnapping of five Britions who were standing guard in front of the Iraq Finance Ministry. (It’s worth noting that the Supreme Court decision isn’t the obvious lead among the country’s leading papers.) The Washington Post goes with Bush’s choice of former diplomat, trade envoy and current exec at Goldman Sacks Robert B. Zoellick to lead the World Bank, in light of Wolfowitz’s resignation. For USA Today, it’s mention of the last two-month period in Iraq being the deadliest for U.S. troops. And, finally, the LA Times leads with the increased delay in retirement for old folks, skittish, it appears, that social security and health care benefits might run out before they do. (Thanks, Slate, for doing my homework. As always.)

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2 responses to “Title VII loses its legs

  1. maty herschthal

    i totally agree with the Sup ruling on filing within 180 days…..if there is suspicion of discrimination, one knows it immediately. and for the record, employees DO indeed discuss their pay amongst themselves even if they say they do not. i know from personal experience….

  2. I would like to see a continuation of the topic

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