Womens Rights Activist and Civil Rights Icon Lilly Ledbetter tells Daemen College 'The Fight is not Over'
Women’s Rights Activist and Author of Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond Shared her Journey with Daemen Audience
April 29, 2013
Contact: Mike Andrei
Lilly Ledbetter, whose efforts to establish equal pay for men and women resulted in President Barack Obama’s first piece of legislation – the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act – spoke before a packed audience at Daemen College April 22, 2013.
Ledbetter told the audience that “the fight is not over.” She said, “We still have a long way to go in the battle for equal pay, for men and women, for a good day’s work."
Ledbetter has become a women’s rights activist and an energetic and effective advocate for change, traveling the country to urge women and minorities to claim their civil rights.
Raised in rural poverty, Ledbetter became one of the first women hired at the management level at the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Factory in Gadsden, Alabama, in 1979. After spending 19 years in her job, she found out she was making thousands of dollars less than her male counterparts.
Determined to challenge this, she filed a sex discrimination case against Goodyear, which she won – and then lost on appeal. Over the next eight years, her case made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where she lost again: the Court ruled that she should have filed suit within 180 days of her first unequal paycheck – despite the fact that she had no way of knowing that she was being paid unfairly during those years. In a dramatic moment as the Supreme Court rendered its verdict, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg read her dissent from the bench, urging Ledbetter to fight back.
The result was a bill passed by Congress that amended the 1964 Civil Rights Act so that unfair pay complaints could be filed within 180 days of a discriminatory act. In January, 2009, the bill was signed into law by newly-elected President Obama.
“It is fitting that with the very first bill I sign – the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act – we are upholding one of this nation’s first principles: that we are all created equal and each deserve a chance to pursue our own version of happiness,” President Obama noted at the signing ceremony in the White House.