Fair pay activist Lilly Ledbetter to visit FIU

Lilly Ledbetter will present a lecture, “The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act,” Sunday, Oct. 17, detailing her struggles to overcome the inequalities she experienced during her 19-year career with Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.

The lecture begins at 4 p.m. in the Graham Center, room 140.

The lecture is open to all students and presented by the FIU Women’s Studies Graduate Student Association and Women’s Studies program. It is sponsored in collaboration with the Women, Sexuality, Gender Studies Association and the American Association of University Women.

Ledbetter worked for Goodyear from 1979 until her retirement in 1998. She started as a line manager and worked her way up to area manager, a position traditionally and largely occupied by men.

Unbeknownst to her, Ledbetter’s salary fell significantly behind those of her male counterparts with equal or less seniority. Ledbetter did not discover the discrepancy until she was nearing retirement. She filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and after her retirement, filed a lawsuit against the company.

In 2006, she was awarded $3.6 million in damages by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama for insufficient wages. That judgment was later reduced to $360,000. Goodyear appealed to the United States Supreme Court in 2007, arguing Ledbetter filed her claim too late because the law required her to file a claim within 180 days after her first paycheck. The problem for Ledbetter is that she didn’t even find out about the earnings discrimination until 7,300 days after her first paycheck. However, the Supreme Court ruled Ledbetter filed her claim too late, and she was denied compensation.

Instead of giving up, Ledbetter began an intensive lobbying campaign in Congress and sought the support of President Barack Obama.  Her efforts paid off. In January, the Lilly Ledbetter Act became law, stating the 180-day statute of limitations for filing an equal-pay lawsuit regarding pay discrimination resets with each new discriminatory paycheck.

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