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Obama Signs Ledbetter Legislation

When Lilly Ledbetter tried to file a claim for unequal pay against her employer after 19 years on the job, the Supreme Court ruled against her her, holding that her claim fell outside the 180-day statute of limitations. While Ledbetter lost the battle, she won the war on unequal pay, with President Obama today signing into law the "Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act," which expands workers' rights to sue for unequal pay by relaxing the statute of limitations.

So what's the impact of the new legislation on the workplace? 

MarketWatch carries an analysis. From employees' perspective, the Ledbetter law "levels the playing field" says Margot Dorfman at the U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce. In addition, extending the statute of limitations may actually cut down on the number of "placeholder suits" filed by litigants who suspect unequal pay policies in order to preserve their claims, even if they hadn't gathered all of the evidence to support their case.

But the law also places a new burden on companies. Even those companies that don't violate equal pay laws can expect added costs in the form of increased paperwork and recordkeeping. Because the law allows employees to sue over decisions that may have been made many years back, companies will need to document pay decisions and keep good records on worker pay. Those companies that lack  necessary documentation may find themselves forced to settle cases. 

Bloggers are now just weighing in with their commentary. Jane Genova at Law and More observes that "the way the bill is configured, statutes of limitations go out the window" and employers can be sued for unintentional wage discrimination. Meanwhile, Jeffrey Hirsch of  Work Place Prof Blog highlights that the Ledbetter Act creates another precedent: the publication of Obama's signing statement on The White House Blog.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on January 29, 2009 at 02:51 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)


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