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Ledbetter v. Goodyear

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MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Today the Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case of former Goodyear Tire employee Lily Ledbetter. She claims she was repeatedly passed over for promotions because she rejected a supervisor's sexual advances. Ledbetter says this discrimination occurred during her entire 19 years with the company. The justices will have to decide if the statute of limitations eliminates most of her claims. Diantha Parker reports.


DIANTHA PARKER: Goodyear argues Ledbetter can only use six months of evidence to support her claims, not the full term of her employment with the company.

It cites U.S. law that limits the time employees can file complaints following alleged acts of discrimination.

Chicago-Kent College of Law professor Martin Malin says the case is unusual because it combines the two most common kinds of discrimination

MARTIN MALIN: Between the promotion denial which is a discrete act and the hostile environment harassment scenario which is something that builds up over time and you really can't pinpoint the specific date.

In 2005, an appeals court overturned a jury's ruling that Ledbetter was entitled to $3.5 million in back pay and other damages.

If the Supreme Court finds in her favor, that could open the door for other plaintiffs to use their entire employment history as evidence in similar suits.

I'm Diantha Parker for Marketplace.

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