Earlier today, President Obama welcomed Lilly Ledbetter to the White House and signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. You can find the text of the act here and even leave your comments on it. You can read the President’s remarks here. And you can find the White House blog entry on the subject here.
In signing the bill, the President said:
So signing this bill today is to send a clear message: that making our economy work means making sure it works for everybody; that there are no second-class citizens in our workplaces; and that it’s not just unfair and illegal, it’s bad for business to pay somebody less because of their gender or their age or their race or their ethnicity, religion or disability; and that justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory, or footnote in a casebook. It’s about how our laws affect the daily lives and the daily realities of people: their ability to make a living and care for their families and achieve their goals.
Ultimately, equal pay isn’t just an economic issue for millions of Americans and their families, it’s a question of who we are — and whether we’re truly living up to our fundamental ideals; whether we’ll do our part, as generations before us, to ensure those words put on paper some 200 years ago really mean something — to breathe new life into them with a more enlightened understanding that is appropriate for our time.
I’ve covered the bill extensively in prior posts, which you can find here, but some final remarks on this new law for now are worth mentioning:
- The final version of this bill does NOT contain provisions relating to the Paycheck Fairness Act. That bill — which was originally part of the House version — did not make it into the Senate version. Thus, the Senate will take that measure up separately, perhaps later this year.
- The bill is retroactive to May 28, 2007, but as the SCOTUS Blog is quick to remind us, it does not "revive" claims that have already been dismissed with a final judgment:
The new law, because it would apply to cases still pending that were filed the day before the Court’s ruling, or thereafter, it has the specific effect of overturning the Ledbetter decision. It cannot alter any case that has been finally decided, however. Congress had the authority to overturn the Ledbetter ruling because that was based only on the Court’s reading of a statute, and not a constitutional provision.
- The bill’s main purpose is to extend statute of limitations on compensation decisions. But the effect of the bill will be to allow for a potential look back on compensation decisions for several years — and perhaps much, longer.