Earlier this evening, the U.S. Senate — after hours of debate on various amendments this afternoon — passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 by a vote of 61-36. Both Connecticut senators, Dodd and Lieberman, voted in favor of the measure. You can read the full text of the bill here.
President Obama has previously indicated that he will sign the bill; the only question now is "when". On the new White House website, it states:
Fighting for Pay Equity: Despite decades of progress, women still make only 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. Throughout their careers, President Obama and Vice President Biden have championed the right of women to receive equal pay for equal work. In the Illinois State Senate, President Obama cosponsored and voted for the Illinois Equal Pay Act, which provided 330,000 more women protection from pay discrimination. In the U.S. Senate, Obama joined a bipartisan group of Senators to introduce the Fair Pay Restoration Act, a bill to overturn the Supreme Court’s recent 5-4 decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. The bill will restore the clear intent of Congress that workers must have a reasonable time to file a pay discrimination claim after they become victims of discriminatory compensation. The President was also a cosponsor of Senator Tom Harkin’s (D-IA) Fair Pay Act, and President Obama will continue to promote paycheck equity and close the wage gap between men and women.
The details of the bill have been recounted numerous times, but there’s a good new summary up by the Senate that is available here.
There is one aspect, though, that hasn’t received much press so far and that is the effective date of the Act. Section 6 indicates that it is effective retroactively to Mary 28, 2007 (the day before the U.S. Supreme Court decided the Ledbetter case) and would apply to all compensation discrimination claims pending on or after that date.
An obvious question now arises: What about all of those discrimination claims that have been dismissed between now and then — what happens to those claims? And what happens to the Ledbetter claim itself?
The answer to those questions will be the subject of a future post. For now, however, employers in Connecticut and nationwide should brush up on their compensation policies and procedures. And for human resources managers — your life just got a lot more…interesting.