The Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network will honor history-maker and workplace rights advocate Lilly Ledbetter at the Women of Influence luncheon, Wednesday, September 14, at the Renaissance Blackstone Hotel, Chicago. Anita Alvarez, Cook County State’s Attorney and Julie Hamos, Illinois Department of Health Care & Human Services Director are honorary hosts.
Ledbetter worked for the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. She was the only female supervisor at the Alabama Goodyear plant at which she worked for nearly 20 years. Shortly before her retirement, she learned that although her starting pay was the same as her male counterparts, over time she earned less than men performing the same work. She filed formal charges against Goodyear with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and sued on the grounds of pay discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act of 1963.
She was successful in the federal district court, where a jury awarded her back pay and damages. The Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reversed, finding Ledbetter’s claim untimely under Title VII. In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the decision of the Eleventh Circuit, finding Ledbetter’s case was filed outside the statute of limitations. The Court did not address the merits of the case.
While a loss in the U.S. Supreme Court generally signals an end to a matter, Ledbetter focused her efforts on ensuring that no other women would find themselves similarly situated. The very first piece of legislation President Barack Obama signed into law in January 2009 was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The law provides new 180-day statutes of limitations for each paycheck for those discriminated against on the basis of gender or race.
Ledbetter will be inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in September, as she is recognized for her valuable and enduring contributions to America.
The Women of Influence luncheon is a fundraiser for the Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network, a collaborative membership organization dedicated to improving the lives of those impacted by domestic violence through education, public policy and advocacy, and the connection of community members to direct service providers. Luncheon tickets are $70. Trailblazer tickets are $90 and include a pre-event Trailblazer reception with the honoree. A number of sponsorship opportunities are also available. Contact the Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network at (312) 527-0730 for more information. ■