From the New Yorker:
She was an ordinary middle-class mom who, despite fierce criticism, succeeded in a male-dominated profession. She challenged the local establishment and became a national figure, earning herself a spot as a featured speaker at her party’s recent Convention. But she wasn’t the governor of Alaska. She was a woman named Lilly Ledbetter, a former middle manager at a Goodyear plant in Alabama, who appeared at the Democratic Convention to give a human face to the slogan “Equal pay for equal work.”
Ledbetter’s unlikely journey to center stage began in the late nineteen-nineties, when she received an anonymous note revealing the salaries of her fellow-managers, all of whom were men. Although Ledbetter did the same job as her colleagues, and had more seniority than some of them, they were all being paid considerably more than she was. Ledbetter sued, under the Civil Rights Act, and proved that her lower pay was the result of discrimination early in her career, the effects of which had never been remedied. But victory was short-lived; the verdict was overturned on appeal, and then the Supreme Court ruled against her. The Court did not deny that Ledbetter had been discriminated against. However, according to the Civil Rights Act, Ledbetter’s lawsuit had to be filed within a hundred and eighty days, and the Court ruled that the clock started ticking with the first act of discrimination, almost two decades before Ledbetter found out what was going on.
Ledbetter was out of luck. But the Court did leave open a possibility for others like her: if Congress wanted a more realistic time frame for lawsuits, all it had to do was change the law. And so, acting with surprising dispatch, that’s precisely what Congress tried to do. Last year, the House passed a bill, named after Ledbetter, that essentially did away with the statute of limitations on pay discrimination, and the Senate was set to do the same until Republicans filibustered it to death.
Read the rest here