Lilly Ledbetter, who initiated one of the largest legal battles for equal pay for equal work, addressed the opening night of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, Tuesday evening.

Ledbetter shared with the convention her decade-long struggle to get compensation from Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., who paid her less than her male counterparts because she was a woman. Her legal battles culminated in a Supreme Court decision in favor of Goodyear that denied Ledbetter equal pay. However, in 2009, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was signed into law and helps not only women, but all workers who are victims of wage discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, national origin, age, or disability. Another equal pay measure, the Paycheck Fairness Act, was filibustered in the Senate in June, 2012.

Speaking to the convention, Ledbetter stated “Maybe 23 cents doesn’t sound like a lot to someone with a Swiss bank account, Cayman Island Investments and an IRA worth tens of millions of dollars… When we lose 23 cents every hour, every day, every paycheck, every job, over our entire lives, what we lose can’t just be measured in dollars.”

She concluded her speech by stating “But this fight became bigger than Lilly Ledbetter. Today, it’s about my daughter. It’s about my granddaughter. It’s about women and men. It’s about families. It’s about equality and justice. This cause, which bears my name, is bigger than me. It’s as big as all of you. This fight, which began as my own, is now our fight-a fight for the fundamental American values that make our country great.”

Media Resources: Politico 9/4/12; Feminist Newswire 6/5/12, 1/29/09

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