Federal Workers Group Salutes Lilly Ledbetter

IAM representatives took part in recent a celebration of Women’s History Month that featured fair pay trailblazer Lilly Ledbetter and actress Tanya Blount. The event was hosted by the Federal Triangle Partnership, consisting of the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the United States Postal Service.

Ledbetter stood up for the rights of working women everywhere when she sued the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in Gadsden, Alabama, claiming an established practice of paying women less than men for the same work. Ledbetter started with the same pay as her male co-workers, but by retirement, was earning $3,727 per month compared to 15 men who earned $4,286. 

The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, where Justice Alito sidestepped the issue of pay discrimination and ruled instead that employers cannot be sued under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act over race or gender pay discrimination, if the claims are based on decisions made by the employer more than 180 days before the charges were brought.

In rejecting Ledbetter’s appeal, the Supreme Court said that “she could have, and should have sued” when the pay decisions were made instead of waiting beyond the 180 day statutory charging period. The effect of the Court’s ruling was reversed when President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair pay Act into law on January 29, 2009.

“Ledbetter’s remarkable story continues to serve as an inspiration to women everywhere,” said IAM Executive Assistant Diane Babineaux, who attended the event. “It also serves as a reminder that discrimination still exists and that a single courageous person can still make a historic difference.”