February 2nd, 2009
12:25 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama's first law: The fight for fair pay

President Obama hands a pen used to sign the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to Ledbetter, second from left.
President Obama hands a pen used to sign the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to Ledbetter, second from left.

(CNNMoney.com) - The issue of compensating your employees just got a bit trickier.

President Barack Obama's first bill, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act he signed into law on Thursday, loosens the statute of limitations under which workers can sue employers for pay discrimination based on characteristics such as gender, race, age or disability.

To ward off discrimination suits, companies will need to meticulously document pay decisions and retain detailed employment records, legal experts say. In this, small companies may be at a disadvantage – few have access to the attorneys and human-resources professionals that will help larger businesses comply with the newly expanded law.

"This will affect [small companies'] legal and compliance costs... and potentially make them reluctant to hire additional employees," said Elizabeth Milito, senior executive counsel of the National Federation of Independent Business. "There's also the potential for one lawsuit that goes south to put a small business out of business."

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Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (83 Responses)
  1. Tony

    The self-centered and short-sighted comments made by the women on this post is simply appalling. Are you completely incapable of seeing other viewpoints?

    This legislation affects EVERY business. EVERY paycheck that you are issued now has to have document justification for 6 months. And the "if they pay everybody fairly then there won't be a problem" comments are so unbelievably ignorant. Yeah, because the world is fair and no woman would ever think to exploit this new law on a company that didn't document payment justification for each paycheck. Good thing none of you women are running a business.

    February 2, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  2. Splurge

    Another Obama campaign promise broken.

    February 2, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  3. Kenneth

    Great Job President Obama!

    Now to briefly address concerns that President Obama is not black but of mixed culture. If he was not President would you still consider his mixed culture based purely on appearance? If so are you willing to accept that thousands of people incarcerated who are documented as black are also of mixed heritage? The so-called black race is a mixture of so many races that to define it as one is not politically correct. Regardless, it just seems a loud outcry or a means of justification to call President Obama a mulatto. True or not there remains a definitive line between the races that is counterproductive no matter how you look at it. I have never heard anyone fight so vehemently to convince people that someone is not a particular race, well except when Tiger Woods won the Masters, as with our new President. Stop judging by appearance and look at the deeds of the person.

    February 2, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  4. Brian

    Yet another way to play to the women voters for President Osama and the Demoncrats after they robbed the best Democratic candidate for President of HER duely elected position as the Democratic Nominee for U.S. President 2008! What's fair about that ladies? Just many of the two faced issues I expect we will be seeing the next four years. My wife, an Italian citizen, has been waiting for two years to get her foreign resident visa! We filed all the paper work accordingly as required by the INS and State Department and still waiting. She and I both have very secure, well paying jobs, never broken any laws, I'm a Marine Corps Veteran with two combat tours in Iraq, one in Afganistan and a total of 17 years active/reserve ... and yet we still WAIT! His aunt, however, defied a deportation order by a FEDERAL judge and lived inside our borders living off our welfare system, your tax dollars at work and now he has pulled strings to let her stay!? GIVE ME A FREAKING BREAK! My choice was Hillary but I'd vote McCain again in a heart beat.

    February 2, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  5. OhioGirl82

    This is NOT equal pay for equal work. I'm a female engineer working in a male-dominated field for 20+ years. I HATE the equal pay for equal work concept - who defines equal? Is a plumber's job equal to a teachers? Is a car salesman equal to a secretary? Le the economy decide. If you want more money, then choose a different job.

    Regarding this bill, I think extending the time to file a claim is appropriate. There is gender discrimination in pay. I don't believe it's intentional most of the time, but it happens accidentally over time. Men are more likely to play golf with the other men. Or go to dinner. Of socialize at the water cooler talking about shared interests. Friendships build. Meanwhile, women are more likely to skip lunch and rush home to tend to children. There is no special bond. That leads to slight differences in raises. Over the years, the slight differences compound. Intentional? No. Unfair? Yes - if they are truly doing commensurate work. (engineer to engineer, accountant to accountant, etc.)

    February 2, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  6. Jackie in Dallas

    For a country that gave voting rights to women in 1920 (40 YEARS after New Zealand, for goodness sake!), it is shameful that it took until 2009 to hold companies ACCOUNTABLE for giving equal pay for equal work!

    I've worked for women's rights for 30 years, and the only place I truly found pay equality was in the military! Odd, isn't it? Men in my career field with less experience, fewer skills, and less ability make between 20-40% more than I, after more than 25 years.

    February 2, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  7. AndreinFL

    I see a lot of posters saying that President Obama breaking promises. Keep in mind President Obama has only been in office for less than a month, and he has already lived up to some of the promises. President Obama has a whole term to accomplish most of what was promised on the campaign trail

    February 2, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  8. Lesley

    When the hell is corporate America going to just do the right thing? Geesh. It takes a law to make companies give equal rights to their workers. @ Allen – women will continue to get jobs. This isn't the 50s any more! You guys won't be able to get away with any sort of discrimination. Wake up!

    February 2, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
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