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Obama Signs Fair Pay Act

Posted by libhom Friday, January 30, 2009

President Obama has signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which is good news, especially considering some sexist behavior by Obama lately. The media coverage has been poor in most cases, not even telling people what the legislation actually does. The Reuters wire service coverage was better, though they buried the substance pretty far down (second page of the story online).

A jury found she was the victim of discrimination. But during the Bush administration, the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision reversed what critics described as decades of legal precedent by declaring that discrimination claims must be filed within 180 days of the first offense.

The court rejected the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's contention that each new discriminatory paycheck triggers a new 180-day statute of limitations.

The law signed by Obama amended the 1964 Civil Rights Act to put the old EEOC standard into law, and covers pay discrimination based on gender, race, national origin, religion, age and disabilities.

Under the ruling, the fact that someone did not know that he or she was being discriminated didn't matter. They still couldn't sue. Given the widespread and unethical practice of keeping salaries and other compensation confidential, the ruling basically rewarded employers for this practice by making discrimination lawsuits almost impossible.

Reading most of the media coverage, you would think that the change was limited to sex discrimination. Oops!

Passage of this legislation is wonderful news. President Obama's response to it and the rest of his recent record illustrate important points about Obama and how liberals need to look at his administration to provide valid analysis and effective tactics.

1) Obama is usually on the fence on women's issues and other issues important to liberals. We aren't doomed on the issues we care about, but we cannot trust Obama either. We need to fight like heck on every issue and give the Obama administration grief every time they act like Republicans.

2) Obama wants desperately to seek approval from Republicans, but he sometimes will rise above this in order to get things done. Liberals need to publicly remind Democrats and the general public that the bulk of Republicans will never behave in a bipartisan manner. The GOP leadership and grassroots always will take bipartisan approaches as signs of weakness.

3) We need to pressure Congressional Democrats to move to the left of Obama. It's important for us to get our agenda enacted into law. It's also in their best interests. If they don't provide real leadership on the issues that matter most to liberals, liberals will stay home or vote Green like many of us did in 1994. Remember what happened in 1994?



  1. Christopher Says:
  2. A good sign, I think.

  3. ParisL0ve2 Says:
  4. Here's the problem as I pointed out on my blog: It does NOTHING!!

    Nothing in this legislation actually forces an employer to pay an equal wage. All it does is switch up the time period in which an employee can file a complaint.

    Shouldn't the whole point of fair pay be to actually get fair pay? This legislation doesn't guarantee that women will be paid equal wages. They should be paying equal wages in the first place instead of forcing employees to prove that they've been discriminated against.

    Obama can talk all he wants about how this is a good day for women. It's not!! Unless there is a bill that is signed by Obama that states "Every employer in the United States of America is required by law to pay equal wages", anything less is worthless!!

  5. libhom Says:
  6. ParisLove2: This legislation is a bit confusing. There already was a law banning discrimination in pay on the basis of sex, race and a couple of other categories.

    However, some rightist Supreme Court justices distorted the law so that there was a statute of limitations of 180 days after the first instance of discrimination (e.g. the first paycheck). The problem is that most employers keep salaries confidential (which also should be illegal, IMO). So, most victims of sex discrimination could not sue in practice, though they could in theory.

    Obama and the Congress restored the right of women to sue for equal pay. This is a big deal, but it doesn't justify some of the sexist things Obama has done.



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