Lilly Ledbetter, the plaintiff who claimed 19 years of unequal pay based on her gender and won a jury award which was later thrown out by the Supreme Court as time-barred, took the podium at the Democratic National Convention to urge Democrats to make legislation restarting the limitations clock with every unequal paycheck a reality.
In her speech, she blasted the Court’s decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., handed down in the Spring of 2007. “They said I should have filed my complaint within six months of Goodyear’s first decision to pay me less, even though I didn’t know that’s what they were doing,” she said.
“In dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote that the ruling made no sense in the real world. She was right,” Ledbetter continued, decrying the failure of the Ledbetter Equal Pay Act in Congress. “The House of Representatives passed a bill that would make sure what was done to me couldn’t happen again. But when it got to the Senate, enough Republicans opposed it to prevent a vote.”
Ledbetter said presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama “has promised to appoint [Supreme Court] justices who will enforce laws that protect everyday people like me,” she said. “But this isn’t a Democratic or a Republican issue. It’s a fairness issue. And fortunately, there are some Republicans-and a lot of Democrats-who are on our side.”