I hope none of our readers have forgotten who Lily Ledbetter is or what she has done. The equal pay advocate, a former Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. employee whose name is on federal equal pay legislation passed last year, joined celebrities Clint Eastwood, Raquel Welch, Leeza Gibbons and six other advocates in being recipients of the eighth annual Inspire Awards given by AARP. The Inspire Awards salute ten outstanding individuals “who are using their energy, creativity and passion to make the world a better place.”
The 2010 honorees include Lonnie Ali (voice for Parkinson’s), Aida Giachello, (Latino health activist), Scott Hamilton (cancer crusader), Tom Joyner (education advocate), Brenda Krause Eheart (Bridge for Generations) and Capt. Richard Phillips (reluctant hero). Nancy Graham, editor of AARP The Magazine observed:
These ten compassionate, forward-thinking and daring individuals stand up for causes they believe in and they’ve found unique ways to inspire others to action. Through their extraordinary contributions to society, this year’s Inspire Award honorees motivate our readers to get involved, give back, and make a difference in their own communities.
Lily Ledbetter, who lives in Jacksonville, Ala., spoke at the Democratic National Convention in Denver about her battle for pay equity that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court before losing. Ms. Ledbetter’s convention speech about her legal battle with Goodyear over being paid less than male supervisors doing the same work got the attention of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. After helping the Obama campaign in several states and cutting a campaign spot for the Democratic presidential nominee, Ms. Ledbetter campaigned for other Democratic candidates.
The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act was the first legislation signed by President Obama. The law gives people 180 days from when they learn of pay discrimination to file suit. Ms. Ledbetter worked at Goodyear for almost 20 years and filed suit in 1998 shortly before retiring. She lost her legal battle in 2007 when the Supreme Court ruled she had waited too long to file suit over her pay, even though she didn’t know she was being paid less.
The company argued the difference in pay was based on job performance, not discrimination, and that the Complaint had been filed late. Ms. Ledbetter said she had wanted the significance of the first bill signed by President Obama to tell the Supreme Court “you got it wrong.” She found out through an anonymous note about the difference in pay and still doesn’t know who gave her the information. This courageous woman says, “It was never about the money, it was about what was right.” Ms. Ledbetter lost an estimated $225,000 in wages during the time she worked at Goodyear. She initially was awarded $3.8 million, but that ruling was overturned by the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and the decision was upheld by the Supreme Court. I am very proud of Lily Ledbetter. Lots of women in this country owe a great deal to her.
Source: The Gadsden Times
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