New Employment Law Updates

            There has been a flurry of activity this week in the employment law front impacting the small business community.


President Obama Signs Bill Relaxing Rules on Pay Equity Suits


            President Obama signed the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law, overturning a recent Supreme Court case that found restrictions on the statute of limitations for individuals to file pay discrimination suits under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.  This law allows workers to file an employment discrimination case up to 180 days after they receive a paycheck or benefits that they allege is discriminatory.  The Act was named for Lilly Ledbetter, a retired supervisor at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company who belatedly filed a claim that she was paid less than her male counterparts due to sex discrimination. 


            This law will increase the numbers of individuals that can sue businesses for pay discrimination, and may also apply to the payment of pension benefits.  This law also revises the timeframe for pay discrimination suits under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

New Form I-9 Goes into Effect February 2


            The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services issued a new Form I-9 to verify employees’ eligibility for employment.  Employers must begin using the new form on February 2, 2009.  Previous versions of Form I-9, in English or Spanish, are no longer valid. Employers who are still using the old forms after February 2 will be subject to applicable penalties and fines.  The new Form I-9 is available from The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.


            The revised form eliminates employees’ use of expired documents to verify employment eligibility.  The government eliminated expired documents formerly accepted because they are frequently used by counterfeiters to create authentic-looking documents for aliens seeking unauthorized employment.  The new form also adds and removes some of the documents employers can accept to verify employment eligibility.


DHS Delays Implementation of E-Verify Employment Eligibility System


            This week the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agreed to delay until May 21, 2009 implementation of a new rule that would require federal contractors to use the federal government’s E-Verify employment eligibility system.  This extension was granted after several business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Associated Builders and Contractors, and the Society for Human Resource Management filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of the federal contractor rule. 


— Janis Reyes, Assistant Chief Counsel