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Election 2012: Debate Questions for President Obama

Posted in Highlight, Labor Law & NRLB, Laws and Regulations, Legislative Developments

Photo from Barack Obama Campaign

With the Presidential election just six weeks away, we have yet to see any of the major party candidates tackle employment law issues in detail.  That, of course, is not surprising.

But as we head towards the debates, I talked with several other employment lawyers who run blogs and we thought we could bring some attention to these issues by posting a series of “debate questions” for the candidates.  So, all this week, you’ll see several of us doing posts on the subject.

Today we tackle some employment law questions for President Obama. Later this week, we’ll have questions for Mitt Romney, Vice President Joe Biden, and Rep. Paul Ryan. 

An important note: This blog, as it did four years ago, isn’t advocating for or against a candidate (I’ll leave that for the political blogs out there); rather, these posts are designed to bring attention to issues that might otherwise get ignored.  I’m not naive; the odds that a debate will focus on this type of question are somewhere between slim and none. But perhaps the candidates can use these closing weeks to address the issues and help those who are interested in these issues gain some greater clarity.  

Here are three employment law questions for President Obama that I’d like to see addressed at the upcoming debates:

  • On your campaign website, you have touted your strong support for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act.  But four years after passage, can you point to any specific instances where this law has made a difference in “pay discrimination”?
  • As President, you have barred discrimination in your administration on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Given your actions in your administration, why has there been no progress in Congress on passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a proposed bill that would bar employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation? Moreover, do you support that bill anymore? Your campaign website has no reference to that bill.
  • The National Labor Relations Board has been advancing a series of rulings that have called into question longstanding business practices including at-will disclaimers and confidential workplace investigations.    In the past, you supported the Employee Free Choice Act.  Do you support what the NLRB has been doing recently? Are there areas where you disagree with them?

Obviously, this can only scratch the surface of issues. But in the comments below, feel free to add your own questions that you’d like to see addressed by the candidates.

And check out the posts today by other employment law blogs: The Employer Handbook, Screw You Guys I’m Going Home, Ohio Employer’s Law Blog, and Employment and Labor Insider.

  • Mark Tyszka, SPHR

    Hello Dan, 

    Great questions on a number of timely and important topics.  How will you and your colleages ensure that these are received by the various candidates?  Will you be sending them to their campaign headquarters?  Or will you submit for publication in the Wall St. Journal, NY Times, Washington Post, etc.? I think these types of specific, direct questions would create a real buzz nationally.  Good luck – and thanks again!

    Mark Tyszka

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