Third Circuit: The Lily Ledbetter Act Does not cover failure-to-promote claims

Our old friend Robert Rank-And-File is at it again. He has sued his employer, Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Delaware, Inc., in federal court. Robert claims that Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Delaware, Inc. violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when it failed to promote him because of his gender, national origin and race. Before he initiated his lawsuit, Robert filed a charge of discrimination with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. But Robert has a problem. He filed his charge two years after he claims that Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Delaware, Inc. failed to promote him. Under Title VII, his claim is now time-barred. But can he use the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to salvage his claim?

Find out after the jump…

To answer this question, we go to Noel v. Boeing Co., a decision from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals on October 1, 2010. Ross Runkel from has a nice summary of the case:

Noel sued the employer for violation of Title VII as amended by the
Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (LLFPA) alleging failure to promote
resulted in lower pay. The trial court granted the employer’s motion for summary judgment. The 3rd Circuit affirmed.

Noel argued that the LLFPA rendered his otherwise out-of-time
administrative filing timely on his failure-to-promote claim resulting
in lower pay, where each paycheck he received started the administrative clock anew. The court determined that, since Noel’s pleadings never
argued that he was denied equal pay for equal work, he pled a
failure-to-promote claim and not a discrimination-in-compensation claim.
Noting that the LLFPA was enacted with the specific intent to overrule
the Supreme Court’s Ledbetter pay discrimination decision, that the
findings of the LLFPA focused on compensation decisions, and that
compensation-related claims and failure-to-promote claims were distinct
claims, the court joined the DC Circuit in concluding that the LLFPA did not apply to failure-to-promote claims.

And there you have it. Our Robert Rank-and-File is out of luck. He argued that Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Delaware, Inc. failed to promote him based on several protected classes. However, Robert never couched his claim as one where he was denied equal pay for equal work. Because he waited too long to file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC for failure to promote claim, he is now time-barred from pursuing his Title VII claims in federal court. (Although Robert may be able to take advantage of the four-year statute of limitations available under 42 U.S.C. § 1981).

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