DNCC - Pay Equity Pioneer Lilly Ledbetter to Address Convention

Pay Equity Pioneer Lilly Ledbetter to AddressConvention
Tuesday,August 26th
DENVER The Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC) announced today that Lilly Ledbetter, the voice and face of the pay equity fight in this country, will address the Democratic Convention on Tuesday, August 26th.

“We are honored that Lilly Ledbetter will address the Democratic Convention,” said Senator Barack Obama. “The fact that women are paid less than their male coworkers for doing the same job is unacceptable in the 21st century and counter to both the progress we've made and our shared values as Americans. Lilly Ledbetter's case before the Supreme Court has once again awakened the nation to this discrimination, and it's time we join together to right this wrong and pay women equal pay for equal work."

“The theme of Tuesday night’s program is Renewing America’s Promise, and there is no more critical promise that we can keep to American women than to ensure pay equity,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Permanent Chair of the 2008 Convention. “There is a clear difference between the parties when it comes to pay equity, and this election could not be more critical when it comes to garnering support for reversing the Supreme Court’s recent 5-4 decision in the Ledbetter v. Goodyear case.  As American women are called upon to do more and more for their families with less and less resources coming in, the least we can do is to ensure pay equity.”

One of few female supervisors at the Goodyear plant in Gadsden, Alabama for almost two decades, Lily Ledbetter was consistently awarded lower pay raises than her male counterparts. When she finally learned of the discrimination, Ledbetter filed a formal charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), in which she asserted, among other claims, a Title VII pay discrimination claim and a claim under the Equal Pay Act of 1963.  Ledbetter’s case went to trial, and the jury awarded her back-pay and approximately $3.3 million in compensatory and punitive damages for the extreme nature of the pay discrimination to which she had been subject.

The Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reversed the jury verdict, holding that her case was filed too late – even though Ms. Ledbetter continued to receive discriminatory pay – because the company’s original decision on her pay had been made years earlier. In a 5-4 decision authored by Justice Alito, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Eleventh Circuit decision and ruled that employees cannot challenge ongoing pay discrimination if the employer’s original discriminatory pay decision occurred outside of the statute of limitations period, even when the employee continues to receive paychecks that have been discriminatorily reduced.

In addition to speaking during Tuesday’s program, Lilly Ledbetter will attend the Women’s Caucus meetings and meet with key leaders throughout Convention week. While Ledbetter will not be making a political endorsement for President, her Convention speech sends a strong message about the high priority Barack Obama and the Democratic Party are making of the pay equity issue.
Senator Hillary Clinton will be the headline primetime speaker on Tuesday night.