Tuesday, June 24, 2008

What would President Obama look like to employers?

crystal_ball2_bmwPreview Yesterday, Senator Barack Obama gave some insight into employment policy in his administration. RealClearPolitics has his words from a speech given in Albuquerque. The highlights:

  • He will push for the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act, which will overturn Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber. Recall that Ledbetter held that the statute of limitations for a pay discrimination claim under Title VII begins to run when the pay-setting decision is made, and not when the employee learns of the discrimination. The Ledbetter Fair Pay Act would start the statute of limitations when the employee learns of the pay discrimination. In my view, this law would create a floating statute of limitations for pay discrimination claims, which severely undermines the important aspect of certainty that statutes of limitations provide for businesses.

  • To assist working parents, he would expand the Child and Dependent Care tax credit to 50%.

  • He would expand the FMLA to cover employers as small as 25 employees, to permit leave for the care of elderly parents, to allow parents 24 hours of annual leave to join school activities with their kids, and to cover employees who are victims of domestic violence or sexual assault.

  • Finally, he would require employers to provide all workers with seven paid sick days a year.

It's clear from Senator Obama's words that family responsibility will be a driving force in his administration:

As the son of a single mother, I also don't accept an America that makes women choose between their kids and their careers. It's not acceptable that women are denied jobs or promotions because they've got kids at home. It's not acceptable that forty percent of working women don't have a single paid sick day. That's wrong for working parents, it's wrong for America's children, and it's not who we are as a country.

It's hard to argue against greater family leave benefits on a national scale (The Ohio Healthy Families Act is an entirely different story). As I've said before, this country lags behind most of the civilized world, and even some of the third world, in family leave benefits. Until we solve this problem legislatively, aggressive plaintiffs will continue to push for judicial solutions - such as the $2.1 million verdict against Kohl's Department Stores in Cuyahoga County last year.