Lilly M. Ledbetter
Charles Dharapak/Associated Press
Lilly M. Ledbetter discovered when she was nearing retirement that her male colleagues were earning much more than she was. A jury found her employer, the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company plant in Gadsden, Ala., guilty of pay discrimination, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
But in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court threw out the case, ruling that she should have filed her suit within 180 days of the date that Goodyear first paid her less than her peers. The narrow majority rejected the argument that each subsequent discriminatory paycheck was a new violation of the law.
Courts around the country cited the decision hundreds of times as a reason for rejecting lawsuits claiming discrimination based on race, sex, age and disability, without regard to the underlying merits of the individual cases.
On Jan. 29, 2009, President Barack Obama affixed his signature to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, his first official bill as president. The legislation expanded workers’ rights to sue in this kind of case, and relaxed the statute of limitations, restarting the six-month clock every time the worker receives a paycheck.
Congress had tried to pass an earlier law after the 2007 court decision that would have effectively overturned the ruling while President George W. Bush was still in office, but the White House opposed it; opponents contended it would encourage lawsuits and argued that employees could delay filing their claims in the hope of reaping bigger rewards.
Ms. Ledbetter will not see any money as a result of the legislation Mr. Obama signed into law. But what she has gotten, aside from celebrity, is personal satisfaction, as she said in the State Dining Room after the signing ceremony.
http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/people/l/lilly_m_ledbetter/index.htmlEdited by Gadfly at 23:22:56 on 04/13/12