Ted Kennedy, who died last night, was known as "the Lion of the Senate." He was also a true working class hero, or more accurately, a hero of the working class. He was one of my heroes as well.
Every day, those of us who practice, write about, or apply employment laws are dealing with Senator Kennedy's life work. Since he was first elected to the Senate in 1962, Kennedy introduced, sponsored and/or vigorously supported these landmark employment, labor, and civil rights laws (among many others):
- The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (the subject of his first speech to the Senate)
- The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)
- The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN)
- The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- The Civil Rights Act of 1991
- The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
- The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
- The Pension Protection Act
- The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)
- The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act
- The COBRA subsidy portion of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
In his decades in the Senate, Kennedy was instrumental in increasing the minimum wage, protecting the rights of workers to organize, fighting discrimination, and much more. He was a reliable and fierce advocate of the rights of people of color, women, gay men and lesbians, and people with disabilities. What an unbelievable legacy.