Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Fat chance of worker stopping pay bias now

Updated May 30
Tuesday's Supreme Court ruling in a job-discrimination case makes me wonder if the justices -- or the Congress that made the law being interpreted -- actually live in the real world. The ruling seems to mean that a worker who believes she was underpaid -- that is, paid less than peers in the same job -- loses the right to sue for redress if the discriminatory decision was made more than six months earlier.

Since most employers go out of their way to make sure their staffs don't know what coworkers are paid, that raises the bar pretty high for anyone to find out what they need to know to file a discrimination claim. I suppose now we'll have a lot of claims filed on thin evidence, and after some are thrown out of court we'll hear a round of laments about fee-hungry lawyers and reckless plaintiffs. That will be cited as grounds to repeal the anti-discrimination law itself. The law marches on toward a dog-eat-dog world.

The reporting that inspired this comment is from the McClatchy Washington Bureau.

This news, tucked away on page 3C of my hometown newspaper, is No. 1 in today's most-viewed list at the Washington Post. And here's the court's full opinion, in pdf format.

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