September 14, 2010

Fair pay activist Lilly Ledbetter to speak at SIUC

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Fair pay activist Lilly Ledbetter will present a lecture later this week at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Ledbetter will discuss the experiences leading up to the 2009 Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act during her appearance at 4 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 16, in the Student Center Auditorium. The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute is sponsoring her visit.

Ledbetter’s appearance is part of the Jeanne Hurley Simon Lecture Series. Admission is free and open to the public.

Media Availability

Reporters, photographers and camera crews are welcome to attend a media availability with Lilly Ledbetter at 1 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 16, in the lobby of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute. Institute Director David Yepsen will host. For more information, contact Matt Baughman, associate director, at 618/453-4009 or 618/201-0082.

President Barack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law on Jan. 29, 2009, the first major piece of legislation he signed.

In 1998, Ledbetter, a 19-year-employee and supervisor for Goodyear, learned the company was paying her 20-percent less than the lowest paid male supervisor. A jury initially found the company intentionally discriminated against Ledbetter and she received a $3.8 million award in back pay and damages, according to the House Committee on Education and Labor. Later reduced to $360,000, the U.S. Supreme Court in 2007 dismissed the award and the jury’s finding entirely.

In its 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court ruled Ledbetter was not entitled to the jury finding and award because she did not file her initial claim within 180 days after Goodyear’s decision to pay her less. According to the House Committee on Education and Labor, Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in her dissent, wrote the majority decision “does not comprehend, or is indifferent to, the insidious way in which women can be victims of pay discrimination.,” and called for congressional legislation to reverse the ruling.

The new law extends the amount of time employees may file pay discrimination charges against their workplace to 180 days after an employee receives a discriminatory paycheck.

Institute Director David Yepsen notes Ledbetter’s important actions and work are helping to end gender-based pay discrimination in the country.

The Jeanne Hurley Simon Lecture Series honors Public Policy Institute founder Paul Simon's first wife, Jeanne, who died in February 2000. The series brings in prestigious speakers in the field of politics, government and other vital issues to campus.

A graduate of Barat College and the Northwestern University School of Law, Jeanne Simon served as an assistant state's attorney in Cook County beginning in 1952. Elected to the Illinois General Assembly in 1956 and 1958, she married fellow legislator Paul Simon in 1960 -- the only wedding of two sitting Illinois state legislators. Upon leaving the legislature in 1961, Simon was an active participant in her husband's subsequent campaigns for lieutenant governor, U.S. representative, and the United States Senate, in addition to Paul Simon's 1988 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

For more information on this or any other institute program, contact the institute at 618/453-4009 or visit