Jan 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