Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act
The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 is a federal law, signed by President Barack Obama, which amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964, addressing the 180-day statute of limitations for filing equal-pay lawsuits. The law was in direct response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., which ruled that the statute of limitations begins with the first discriminatory paycheck, and not the most recent.
Lilly Ledbetter was a production supervisor at a Goodyear plant in Alabama, who filed a pay discrimination suit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Six months before her retirement in 1988, she sued Goodyear for being paid significantly less than her male counterparts, even though she had worked at the company since 1979. Upon reaching the Supreme Court, in 2007 the Court ruled that she should have filed the suit within 180 days of her first paycheck.
House Democrats quickly supported Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s minority dissent, and drafted a bill to amend the law to move the 180-day statute of limitations to the employee’s latest paycheck, not the first. Numerous organizations, including the ACLU, the AFL-CIO, the AARP, and the National Organization for Women supported the measure. The bill eventually passed the 111th Congress in a vote split along party lines, clearing both houses in January 2009 and signed into law by President Obama as the first act he signed as President.