The decision came in a case involving a supervisor at a Goodyear Tire plant in Gadsden, Ala., the only woman among 16 men at the same management level, who was paid less than any of her colleagues, including those with less seniority. She learned that fact late in a career of nearly 20 years — too late, according to the Supreme Court’s majority.
The New York Times article continues:
In a vigorous dissenting opinion that she read from the bench, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the majority opinion “overlooks common characteristics of pay discrimination.” She said that given the secrecy in most workplaces about salaries, many employees would have no idea within 180 days that they had received a lower raise than others.plez sez: this ruling would seem to have a devastating effect on women and minorities in industries where their numbers have traditionally been under-represented (financial sector, technology sector, upper-level management, c-level management, etc.). we live in a culture where a tremendous amount of ego and self is associated with one's salary; there is an unwritten rule that people do not talk about their salary. as illustrated by this case, Ledbetter was at Goodyear for close to 20 years, drawing far less in salary to her male counterparts. i'll be honest, i have no idea what the counterparts at my job are currently making, and i'd be well past the 180 day mark if i chose to contest it.
An initial disparity, even if known to the employee, might be small, Justice Ginsburg said, leading an employee, particularly a woman or a member of a minority group “trying to succeed in a nontraditional environment” to avoid “making waves.” Justice Ginsburg noted that even a small differential “will expand exponentially over an employee’s working life if raises are set as a percentage of prior pay.”
Ms. Ledbetter’s salary was initially the same as that of her male colleagues. But over time, as she received smaller raises, a substantial disparity grew. By the time she brought suit in 1998, her salary fell short by as much as 40 percent; she was making $3,727 a month, while the lowest-paid man was making $4,286
this is different from those (like the Justices) who are employed by the government, because those salaries are common knowledge; it is much less common in private industry for salaries to be divulged or discussed. this SCOTUS ruling (the 180 day rule) gives workers a clear disadvantage when it comes to uncovering disparity in pay. we can only hope that Congress will address this issue in upcoming legislation.