Obama Signs Lilly Ledbetter Bill Into Law

Discussion in 'Up to the Minute' started by elfie, Jan 29, 2009.

  1. elfie

    elfie Active Member

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  3. Marthatex

    Marthatex New Member

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    Sounds good to me.
     
  4. angelmom

    angelmom The love stays...forever in our hearts

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    I'm all for equal pay, but this opens companies up to unbelievable amounts of litigation years after the alleged discrimination occurred. I think it may make some businesses more reluctant to offer pensions since that would extend the period in which a suit could be filed.

    How did she work there for 20 years and not know there was wage discrimination until after she retired?
     
  5. imamaze

    imamaze Former Member

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    Angelmom,

    Here is a pretty good interview that explains a lot of it.

    The law being signed sounds good to me too!!

    http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=tap_talks_with_lilly_ledbetter
    TAP Talks with Lilly Ledbetter
    How did you finally find out how much your male co-workers were making?
    The only way that I really knew was that someone left an anonymous note in my mailbox showing my pay and the pay for the three males who were doing the same job, just on different shifts. Until then, I had no proof. I'd hear people talking about how much they were making when that individual and myself were splitting someone else's shift, and I knew mine wasn't near theirs, but I had no proof. Until I got that scrap of paper. And I went immediately to EEOC.

    Did you ever find out who left you the note?
    No, I didn't. I'd be afraid to guess. But whoever it is, I'd like to thank them. When I saw the difference in the amount of money I was paid, I could not let Goodyear get away with it. I had to stand up.

    How did you know your rights? What led you to sue?
    There's a lot of publicity about EEOC and your rights, and I knew I was a lone female in a male-dominated factory. When I saw that note, it just floored me. I was so shocked at the amount of difference in our pay for doing the same exact job. When we got into the case, I was more shocked to see what all the other people were making, too. They all had much greater pay than I, and most had less seniority, less experience. And I worked there for 20 years. I was a good employee, and I worked hard; there was nothing I couldn't do.

    What advice would you give working women when it comes to getting the wages they deserve?
    It's a very difficult thing to do anything about. For one thing, if you're one of very few women working in a job, if you rock the boat or ask a question, they say you're a troublemaker. I'd been in meetings where higher people in my plant would say, "We don't need women in this factory," but they knew the law required them to have some. I sat through those meetings, and I was discriminated against because I did my job and I liked my job, and I was good at it.
    More...

    Ima
     
  6. angelmom

    angelmom The love stays...forever in our hearts

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    I agree that the law has good intentions. My concern is that it gives the person 2 years from when they last received any pay related to the discrimination to file.

    For example, a man I know owned a business for years and sold it in the 1990's. Through some sort of escrow or however it works, there are still pensions and and/or retirement benefits being paid out to the few office workers who were not on commission.

    He was originally told that he needed to keep documents relating to payroll for a certain number of years - I can't remember how many, but it was a big deal not that long ago to hire one of those giant shredder trucks to come destroy it all.

    Now this law retroactively makes it possible for someone to file a suit within 2 years of their last pension check (b/c that is based on their wages). How is the business owner supposed to defend himself when the records have been destroyed?

    And is there any consideration given for the fact that this was how things were done at the time? This man wasn't trying to be a bad person, but he hired and paid what he could. If he could get a woman to work for less he did. Just like if he could get a man to work for less he did. I think he was just trying to spend the least on payroll possible, and it didn't occur to him at the time that it was unfair or wrong. All of the office workers were women, and they all made different salaries depending on their experience and demands and how badly he needed someone when they came to work for him. It was a market issue.

    Is the government going to be held to this same standard? Or, as I suspect, is there an exemption for federal and state jobs? B/c we'd be bankrupt if we had to pay all of those people! Do you think the federal gov't doesn't engage in this same practice?

    I think the courts will be flooded with people, not just women but minorities as well, who were hired at a lower wage and are now retirees who need money in these difficult times. I feel for them, but it is reasonable?
     
  7. southcitymom

    southcitymom New Member

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    You rase some great points, angelmom. I am just not educated enough on this issue to know what to think. I certainly HOPE it's a good law and I, of course, believe women should be paid on scale with men. We will have to have to see how this all shakes outs.
     
  8. Marthatex

    Marthatex New Member

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    If you pay someone a pension; you keep computerized or store records, the same as we all store IRS records for 10-15 years for certain things.

    Doctors and attorneys have had to store their office and employment records for years and years. They usually have to rent a storage unit to store these. HIPPA rules.

    It seems like it should be easy to plan an equal pay scale for the position, whether it goes to man or woman.

    If someone gets a raise, or not, it should be documented, and why. I would think most State & Fed. agencies have been doing this already, they have pretty set payscales. Universities have a standard pension level for years worked, etc., based on the amount of pay you make, whether woman or man.

    People thought the "sexual Harrassment" laws would cause alot of problems, and there are some cases that probably should not have been brought.

    But, bottom line, men and also women learned how they'd "better behave" in the office. Better not even touch someone. It does make for more difficulties for some offices, that's for sure. But who wants to be fondled and have a boss get away with it? Who wants to be paid less and suspect it, but have no recourse?

    It is Constitutional to treat men and women equally, when they are doing the same thing. Wish I could have been paid for the years I was a housewife, and raised 2 children to be good citizens!! Women consistently earn less than men throughout their lifetimes, no matter what they are doing, because they have to constantly pause, take breaks, and pay for childcare out of their salaries.

    (I realize I touched alot of bases there, but most women don't even realize how there earning power is less over the lifetime, and even get screwed by Social Security if they get divorced (you have to be married 10 years to collect your husband's).
     
  9. angelmom

    angelmom The love stays...forever in our hearts

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    snipped, respectfully

    my point is that this is retroactive and can go back YEARS!!!

    Because someone might not have worked for the company for 10+ years but is still collecting a pension, which is based on the initial wage discrimination from when they were hired 20 years before that! Or one of their various raises. Do you think someone can find those records? I doubt it.

    I just think laws that are retroactive have to be worded and researched very carefully, and they make me very wary. I will always remember a Social Studies teacher in middle school explaining why laws were not allowed to be written retroactively (HA!).

    He said, "What if a policeman saw you spit on the sidewalk, and it's not against the law. But he goes and tells the City Council and they write a law making it illegal. Then he comes and gives you a ticket for spitting on the sidewalk YESTERDAY when it wasn't illegal."

    That has always stuck with me, even though it is a primitive example. Times change, people change, ideas change. Change is (often) good, but we can't change the past.

    Do you want to be held financially and legally accountable for things that were considered socially, legally, and morally acceptable 20 years ago?


    ETA: Interesting link: http://www.cnsnews.com/public/content/article.aspx?RsrcID=42747
     
  10. Marthatex

    Marthatex New Member

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    I guess I don't really understand, because I can see that the statute of limitations is now 6 months after the last paycheck, not after the time the discrimination occurred.

    I don't see anything about it being retroative for years or months back. I would have to read the law itself; and I'm not a legal expert. I guess I would have to see an actual retroactive case be argued on TV or in court. You mentioned the word, "pension", so that confused me. Can this occur after the last pension paycheck also? I wouldn't think so; just regular job paycheck.

    It is true that sometimes we just make some things more difficult when we pass new laws, even though our intentions might have been good.
     
  11. angelmom

    angelmom The love stays...forever in our hearts

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    The pension is based on the wage discrimination, so every time a new check is issued the statute of limitations starts over.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28937792/

    "In practical terms," said Catherine Moreton Gray, J.D., managing editor, Human Resources at BLR, "the law eliminates the time limit within which an employee must file a complaint of pay discrimination as long as he or she continues on an employer's payroll. In other words, if a female employee had a supervisor 10 years ago that made pay decisions based on gender, causing her to be paid less than her male counterparts, and that pay inequity was not corrected in subsequent pay increases, each paycheck will start a new statute of limitations, This means the employee may file a charge of discrimination many years later when she learns of the discrepancy in pay."

    Moreton Gray adds, "If that's not enough to cause employers concern, then consider that the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act amends Title VII, the ADA, and the ADEA, effectively extending the statute of limitations for claims of compensation discrimination under all major, federal civil rights laws."

    BLR founder and CEO Bob Brady predicts that the Ledbetter Act will make it harder for employers to defend pay discrimination suits. One reason is that if the discrimination occurred years in the past, it's unlikely the people who made the decision will still be employed by the organization.



    And this is a great article about wage parity and what Obama should have done instead:
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/02/03/EDK215MH1U.DTL
     
  12. Mouse

    Mouse Member

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    The spitting example isn't a good analogy, because the Ledbetter Act doesn't apply retroactively. It has been illegal to pay less on the basis of gender since the Equal Pay Act of 1963. So there's no "retroactive law" being applied here--paying Ledbetter unfairly was already illegal for the entire time of her employment. Ledbetter's employer had a strict policy against employees discussing salary with their co-workers (gee, I wonder why?); being caught discussing salary was a fireable offense. Many workplaces have a similar policy. I suppose in a non-unionized workplace, discussing salary inequities can lead to quite a bit of unrest; at least, that's the only reason I can think of for such a policy. The Ledbetter act ONLY extends the amount of time you have to file when you realize the already-existing laws governing pay are being broken. The previous court decision said that you had 180 days from the FIRST illegally unequal paycheck to file suit. That's 6 months. Imagine how well it would go over if the very first thing a brand-new employee did was immediately go around to everyone on payday, asking, "How much did YOU get?" It's obnoxious. You don't go around asking everyone what they scored on a test once you're out of high school, and you don't go around asking sensitive details about everyone else's salary when you're a newbie. All the Ledbetter Act does is reaffirm that every time an illegally unfair paycheck is issued, it in a continued breaking of the already existing pay laws. It doesn't make new law--it only reinforces the one that was already there and had been for decades. All it does is say that companies don't get a pass on continuing to knowingly break the law if they can just keep it hidden for the first 6 months. With the current economic crisis and all the financial shenanigans that are just now coming to light, surely none of us want to say that, well, if you got away with fraud for 6 months, then you're off scot-free?

    It's also not retroactive for Ms. Ledbetter--she will not receive one penny from her previous employer. Not one. So the fear that suddenly people will come out of the woodwork, wanting to be score big money from a job they left years ago, is baseless. Employers who have routinely been ethical and adhered to existing employment labor laws have nothing to fear from the Ledbetter Act.

    A better analogy would be if you have a necklace that you don't often wear, so you don't realize it's been stolen until later. Or if your car is stolen while you're spending a semester abroad. Just because you don't discover the crime until later, doesn't mean that a crime wasn't committed. And it also doesn't mean that extending the statute of limitations when robbery was already against the law is somehow unfair to the robber. Don't want to keep looking over your shoulder for the cops for that much longer? Simple: don't rob. Don't want to be sued for unfair wages? Simple: just follow the employment law that's already been in place for decades.
     

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