Lilly Ledbetter, the namesake of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, will be in Cookeville next week to talk about her experiences with gender-based pay inequality. The talk is scheduled for 7 pm on Tuesday, Sept. 28, in Derryberry Hall Auditorium. Organizers of the event say Ledbetter has made a groundbreaking impact in an effort to banish unequal pay on behalf of women and their families — resulting in the signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law. Because of her perseverance, the Alabama native has been called an advocate and a crusader for equal pay. Ledbetter worked as a Goodyear supervisor for almost 20 years before learning that she was a victim of discriminatory pay. The day she found out, she came home and told her husband that she wanted to file charges with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She was awarded back pay after fighting eight years in court. However, the Supreme Court overturned the decision saying she did not file her complaint within required time limitations. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was moved to write a dissent challenging Congress to do something about pay inequality for women and that act was passed in January of 2009.
The law resets the 180-day filing period for every new discriminatory paycheck. Though she will not receive the money owed to her, Ledbetter has chosen to spend her retirement traveling the country speaking out against discriminatory pay. She wants to educate others on this issue so that they don't suffer the same fate. TTU is among several colleges and universities, including Harvard and Georgetown, that Ledbetter has been invited to speak at around the country.
The Women's Center and the TTU communications program will host this Center Stage event. It will be free and open to the public.