President Obama Signs Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

President Obama’s first bill-signing ceremony was a celebratory affair with Ms. Ledbetter and top Congressional Democrats on hand. No point in reciting our arguments about why the new law will invite speculative litigation and discourage the hiring of new employees — it’s a done deal.

Save for one point: We see that the American Association for Justice, the national trial lawyers lobby, issued a statement from its president, Les Weisbrod, today, “Ledbetter Act Delivers Justice for Working Americans, Says AAJ.” It’s boilerplate.

Today marks the end of a long road for Lilly Ledbetter and the beginning of justice being served for countless workers who have been victims of pay discrimination. For too long big business has tried to sweep pay discrimination under the rug and justify unethical corporate practices as necessary to bolster the economy. 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.

AAJ has been remarkably silent on the bill, we suspect because the trial lawyers did not want to provide any ammunition to opponents who argued that the legislation would really benefit litigators more than employees. But with the bill signed, they can now speak freely and take credit. Smart politics, really.

Also, we’re still waiting for a reporter to ask Ms. Ledbetter if she intends to reopen the litigation. The law’s effective date was clearly written to allow her to revive her legal claims against Goodyear Tire & Rubber.

The President’s statement upon the bill-signing ceremony is here. Washington Post story, “Obama Signs First Piece of Legislation.” For more background, see this post or just search for Ledbetter on the blog.

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