Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) and Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) have filed legislation allowing enforcement of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 in state courts. HB 187/SB 65 is substantially the same bill the Legislature enacted in 2013 and Governor Perry vetoed.
Current Texas law provides that an employee must file an unlawful employment practice complaint with the Texas Workforce Commission civil rights division within 180 days after the alleged unlawful practice occurs. If the employee proves up the claim, he or she may recover up to two years of back pay. Appeal of the administrative review is to state district court. HB 187/SB 65 clarifies that the statute of limitations for a wage discrimination claim runs from the date of the most recent paycheck subject to the discriminatory practice, not the date of the compensation agreement between the employer and employee. It further allows an aggrieved employee to obtain relief (including back pay) for similar or related unlawful employment practices that occurred prior to the two-year back pay period. The bill responds to a 2012 Texas Supreme Court decision ruling that federal protections for wage discrimination did not extend to state law (Prairie View A&M v. Chatha).