President Obama Signs The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act
President Obama signed his first bill into law on January 29, 2009 approving the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a law named for Ms. Ledbetter, fourth from left, an Alabama woman who at the end of a 19-year career as a supervisor in a tire factory complained that she had been paid less than men.For nearly two decades at the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company in Gadsden, Alabama, Ledbetter worked for less money than male co-workers with the same job. She lost more than $200,000 in salary, benefits, and retirement savings due to pay discrimination. After her November 1998 retirement, she filed suit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and was awarded back pay and other remedies in a jury trial. The U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision not only erased Ledbetter’s award, but also left women, minorities, and others in Ledbetter’s situation with virtually no recourse to pay discrimination. After a U.S. Supreme Court ruling against her, Congress approved the legislation that expands workers’ rights to sue in this kind of case, relaxing the statute of limitations.
“It is fitting that with the very first bill I sign — the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act — we are upholding one of this nation’s first principles: that we are all created equal and each deserve a chance to pursue our own version of happiness,” the president said.
He said he was signing the bill not only in honor of Ms. Ledbetter — who stood behind him, shaking her head and clasping her hands in seeming disbelief — but in honor of his own grandmother, “who worked in a bank all her life, and even after she hit that glass ceiling, kept getting up again” and for his daughters, “because I want them to grow up in a nation that values their contributions, where there are no limits to their dreams.”
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