Texas Supreme Court Issues Opinion Regarding Pay Discrimination Matter
The Texas Supreme Court recently addressed an issue of first impression: Does the federal Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act apply to claims brought under the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act so that the 180-day limitations period begins anew each time a claimant receives a paycheck containing a discriminatory amount? Prairie View A&M Univ. v. Chatha, No. 10-0353 (Tex. Aug. 31, 2012), available at http://www.supreme.courts.state.tx.us/historical/2012/aug/100353.pdf.
The TCHRA obligates a claimant to file a complaint within 180 days after the date an allegedly unlawful employment practice occurs. Texas courts have interpreted “occur” to mean when a discriminatory employment decision is made—not when the effects of that decision become manifest in later events. This interpretation mirrored the United States Supreme Court’s interpretation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 until Congress enacted the Ledbetter Act to amend Title VII. The Ledbetter Act provides that a discriminatory pay decision occurs each time a paycheck is received. Because the Texas Legislature has not similarly amended the TCHRA, the Court held that the Ledbetter Act does not apply to a claim brought under the TCHRA.
Thus, in accordance with the TCHRA and precedent, the Court concluded that a pay discrimination complaint must generally be brought within 180 days of the date the claimant is informed of the compensation decision.
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KEITH A. CLOUSE
Clouse Dunn LLP
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