The Woman Behind The Ledbetter Pay Act | KCUR

The Woman Behind The Ledbetter Pay Act

Jul 30, 2012

In 1979, Lilly Ledbetter, a woman born in a house with no running water or electricity, applied for a job at the Goodyear tire factory. 

Even though the only women she’d seen there were secretaries in the front offices where she’d submitted her application, she got the job—one of the first women hired at the management level.

Though she faced daily discrimination and sexual harassment, Lilly pressed onward, believing that eventually things would change.  Nineteen years later, Lilly learned that she was making thousands less per year than the men in her position and filed a sex discrimination case against Goodyear, which she won and then lost on appeal. 

Ledbetter's case made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where she lost again: the court ruled that she should have filed suit within 180 days of her first unequal paycheck despite the fact that she had no way of knowing that she was being paid unfairly all those years.  

In reading her dissent from the bench, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg urged Lilly to fight back.  And she did, becoming the namesake of President Barack Obama's first official piece of legislation.  

Tuesday on Up to Date, Steve Kraske talks with Ledbetter about her advocacy for change, traveling the country to urge women and minorities to claim their civil rights. Ledbetter's new book is titled Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond.

HEAR MORE: Lilly Ledbetter speaks about her book this evening at 7 at Unity Temple on The Plaza, Sanctuary, 707 W 47th Street, Kansas City, Missouri 64112. Call Rainy Day Books in Fairway at 913 384 3126 or click here for more details.