Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Pres. Obama #SOTU and Employment Law

Like every good American, I spent last night glued to my TV to watch Pres. Obama deliver his State of the Union address (transcript). Or, at least I thought about it... but my daughter made me watch 35 straight episodes of My Little Pony instead.

But I digress... apparently, Pres. Obama touched on a number of employment law issues. Here are just a few highlights:
Congress still needs to pass a law that makes sure a woman is paid the same as a man for doing the same work. Really. It’s 2015. It’s time. We still need to make sure employees get the overtime they’ve earned. And to everyone in this Congress who still refuses to raise the minimum wage, I say this: If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, go try it.
What should we call this law that requires equal pay? I know, how about the Equal Pay Act? Oh wait, that name is already taken... by a law that already requires equal pay for men and women (and, yes, "Title VII" is already taken too). Presumably he has something like the Paycheck Fairness Act in mind.

Minimum wage increases have had some political success at the state level, but I doubt Congress will take federal action. Of course, the FLSA already requires overtime payment, but the regs and exceptions are a convoluted mess (been that way for decades - I'm not holding my breath for any major fixes).
And since paid sick leave won where it was on the ballot last November, let’s put it to a vote right here in Washington. Send me a bill that gives every worker in America the opportunity to earn seven days of paid sick leave. It’s the right thing to do.
Again, I doubt this Congress will pass such a bill. That said, Republicans have supported some workplace protections in the recent past (ADAAA, GINA, FMLA servicemember leave) so I wouldn't completely rule it out.