President Barack Obama signed his first bill into law this morning, enacting the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which will restart the statute of limitations for unequal pay employment bias claims with the issuance of every disproportionately low paycheck. The law overturns the 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.
Ledbetter, the tire plant manager who brought the suit leading to the Supreme Court ruling, was with Obama today for the bill signing, as a was a bevy of officials that included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was among the bill co-sponsors last senate session, as was Obama.
“It is fitting that with the very first bill I sign – the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act – we are upholding one of this nation’s first principles: that we are all created equal and each deserve a chance to pursue our own version of happiness,” Obama said.
Obama’s comments were interrupted a number of times by applause from those in attendance. And supporters wasted no time lauding the new law. [More after the jump]
“Today’s signing ceremony proves that elections make a real difference for real people. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act will clearly help to end unfair discrimination in the workplace,” said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, in a statement. “Under President Obama’s leadership, we’ll continue to put working families first and bring needed change to America.”
American Association for Justice President Les Weisbrod said: “Today’s victory shows that corporations will be held accountable for their actions and that even ordinary citizens can get justice when taking on the most powerful interests. In one stroke of a pen, the Obama administration has strengthened the role of the civil justice system and restored legal protections for all working Americans.”
“This is truly a monumental achievement for women – and all workers,” said Marcia D. Greenberger, Co-President of the National Women’s Law Center. “The Supreme Court stripped workers of their ability to fight wage discrimination but now a new President and Congress have stepped in and restored their basic legal rights. Employers will now be held accountable for each discriminatorily reduced paycheck, because every time pay is unfairly lowered, it’s a violation of the law and fundamental fairness.”
ABA President Thomas Wells, Jr. said: “The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 restores the opportunity for redress for the very workers who suffer the most from unfair pay practices—the ones who have experienced the hidden injustice of unequal pay for the longest time. They may once again assert their right under federal antidiscrimination laws to equal pay for equal work.”