[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/02/art.getty.ledbetter.obama.jpg caption="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."