In a triumphant development for equal pay, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals today ruled in favor of Mary Lou Mikula, holding that her Title VII pay discrimination claim had been erroneously dismissed on the basis that her charge was not timely. The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) filed a petition to rehear her case, Mikula v. Allegheny County of Pennsylvania, relying on the newly enacted Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
The Ledbetter Act was signed into law by President Obama in January.
The Ledbetter Fair Pay Act restored the law that existed for decades in virtually every region of the country prior to the Supreme Court decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. and makes it clear that each discriminatory paycheck is a new act of discrimination that resets the 300-day time period to file a claim.
“The ruling today in Ms. Mikula’s case underscores why the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is so important,” said Marcia D. Greenberger, Co-President of the National Women’s Law Center. “Today’s decision is a victory for Ms. Mikula and for all those who have been denied equal pay. The decision implements the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act as Congress intended, restoring the ability of victims of wage discrimination to challenge this practice in court.”
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Mary Lou Mikula managed the police grants budget for Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. She was paid several thousand dollars less than a male manager with whom she shared many responsibilities from her date of hire and continued to be paid less despite her repeated requests for a pay increase. In an initial panel opinion, the Third Circuit held that her Title VII claim was not filed in a timely manner despite the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. NWLC filed a petition for rehearing in April, and the court’s decision today makes clear that each discriminatory paycheck renews the time period for filing a Title VII claim.
“Today’s decision shows that laws matter. Congress should now pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, another key piece of legislation that will build on the Ledbetter bill by improving incentives for employers to comply with the law and the ability of employees to secure compliance with it,” Greenberger stated.