Thursday, April 24, 2008

What I’m Hearing…The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

Compensation came to the forefront of the nation last night, as Democratic Presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton interrupted their campaigns to return to Washington, D.C. to vote on pending legislation. The topic at hand? The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The legislation failed to pass in the Senate, with a 56-42 vote. The bill is likely dead for the rest of 2008.

The Ledbetter Act’s main focus was to extend the statue of limitations for filing pay discrimination claims. Had the law been passed, individuals would have been able to file such lawsuits years and decades after the alleged discrimination occurred.

I don’t disagree with the need to ensure equal pay between the sexes. With all other factors being equal, paying someone less simply because she is a woman is wrong. However, the concept of statute of limitations is an important part of our legal system. We cannot allow new legislation on matters including and beyond Human Resources to erode this foundation. Otherwise, our already litigious society will become even more so, with far reaching effects including higher insurance costs, increased money spent on legal fees, greater court backlog, and general ill will. Let’s instead focus our time on preventing such discriminatory actions from occurring in the first place, and proactively remedying any that may have unfortunately already occurred.

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