January 2009 Archives

January 29, 2009

Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act signed by President Obama

Today, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a bill that contravenes a 2007 Supreme Court decision limiting when an employee can sue an employer for discrimination. The case, discussed in previous posts, involved Lilly Ledbetter, a long-time employee of Goodyear Tire, who discovered she'd been paid less than male counterparts for many years. When she discovered the pay disparity, Ledbetter sued.

However, the Supreme Court found that Ledbetter hadn't filed her claim in time. According to the Court, under federal law Ledbetter had 180 days to do so, and because the alleged discriminatory acts that had resulted in lower pay had happened years earlier, she'd missed her deadline. Ledbetter argued that each paycheck she received was a "continuing violation," as she was regularly paid less than male counterparts (without her knowledge).

This new legislation essentially takes Ledbetter's position that each paycheck that perpetuates a discriminatory decision acts as a continuing violation that allows the employee to sue within 180 days of receiving the check.

President Obama's decision to make this the first piece of legislation he signed may mean we can expect this administration to be actively involved in regulating workplace issues. Stay tuned.

Alayna Schroeder

January 26, 2009


Concerned about employee use of instant messaging and email? So is President Obama. In fact, the White House is so concerned -- about security risks and record-keeping requirements, among other things -- that it has apparently banned instant messaging by staff. The Washington Post reports that Facebook is also off-limits, as are logins to outside email accounts. 

Not an easy transition for the team that used Web 2.0 (and the Internet in general) to such great effect during the campaign. On the other hand, e-security is a very real concern for many businesses -- not just because of viruses, hackers, and possible disclosure of confidential information, but also because all of these electronic communication tools create records that may have to be saved or even produced in a lawsuit. Or, in the case of the White House, preserved for posterity.

For more information on technology at work (including an IM policy that provides several options for employee use of IM), check out my new book, Smart Policies for Workplace Technologies.