Vigilant Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law, HR, safety & workers' comp

Feb 21, 2011

EEOC rejects pay discrimination claim based on pension payments

Employee Benefits 

Unlike paychecks, retirement checks don’t restart the statute of limitations on pay discrimination claims each time they are issued, wrote the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in an unpublished decision. This was a case of first impression for the EEOC, and they decided that the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 didn’t change the legal landscape on pay discrimination as it applies to pension payments. A federal employee retired in 1997, and filed a sex discrimination complaint 12 years later, saying she was paid a lower rate than men in comparable positions during her last years of employment, which affected her retirement pay. The EEOC ruled that the clock started ticking on her pay discrimination claim on the date she retired, and it wasn’t extended by the receipt of pension checks (Brakeall v. EPA, EEOC Appeal No. 0120093805, Nov. 30, 2010).

Tips: If the courts take the same approach as the EEOC did in this case, it will be a huge relief for employers. One question that was left unanswered, though, is what happens when there is a significant gap in time between an employee’s last date of employment, and the date of retirement. Does the statute of limitations for a pay discrimination claim begin running on the last day of employment, or might it restart on the date of retirement several years (or decades) later? Vigilant will keep members informed as this area of law develops.

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