Judson College is pleased to announce that internationally-acclaimed social justice and civil rights advocate Lilly Ledbetter will give the address at the College’s 2014 commencement exercises, to be held in Alumnae Auditorium at 11:00 am on June 28.
Ledbetter’s historic gender discrimination case, eventually heard by the United States Supreme Court, inspired the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.
“For 175 years, Judson College has been encouraging her students to embrace Lux et Veritas, or ‘Light and Truth.’ Mrs. Ledbetter’s life is an extraordinary example of how one woman can bring injustice to light by speaking the truth,” explained Susan Jones, Interim Vice President and Dean of Students. “We seek to inspire this kind of courage and commitment in each of our graduates, and we are thrilled to welcome Mrs. Ledbetter to our campus for this auspicious occasion.”
Ledbetter grew up in Possum Trot, Alabama, in a home with no running water or electricity. In 1979, Ledbetter took what she believed was her dream job at Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, becoming one of the first women hired for a management position with the company. Nineteen years later, she received an anonymous note alerting her to the fact that she was making thousands of dollars less per year than men who held the same management position.
Ledbetter retired from Goodyear in 1998 and filed a successful discrimination case against her former employer, but the verdict was overturned on appeal. Eight years later, the case was heard by the Supreme Court, which supported the overturning of the original verdict since Ledbetter had not filed suit within 180 days of her first discriminatory paycheck, despite the fact that she didn’t know she was being paid unfairly at that time.
After the Supreme Court ruling, Ledbetter continued to advocate for policies that would eliminate pay discrimination. Her efforts helped pave the way for the legislation that would become the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the first piece of legislation signed into law by President Barack Obama on January 29, 2009. The Ledbetter Act allows people who have experienced pay discrimination to file suit within 180 days from the date of their last discriminatory paycheck, giving employees a fair and reasonable opportunity to file paycheck discrimination claims.
Today, Ledbetter continues to be an advocate for the fair treatment of all people. In 2012, Ledbetter published Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond, a book chronicling her life and advocacy for equal pay practices and policies. While she won’t receive restitution from Goodyear, Ledbetter takes pride in the fact that her efforts have helped create better policies for others. “I’ll be happy if the last thing they say about me after I die is that I made a difference,” she said.
Said Judson College President Dr. David Potts, “We are delighted that Mrs. Ledbetter will address the Class of 2014 at Commencement during the 175th anniversary celebration of the College. Her remarks will certainly inspire our graduates, and her deeds have helped to assure fairer treatment for them in the workplace.”
Originally founded in 1838 as the Judson Female Institute, Judson College is the only women’s college in the state of Alabama. Throughout its existence, the institution has sought to educate young women in preparation for lives of service that improve their communities and the world. The June 28 commencement exercises mark the end of Judson’s 175th anniversary celebration. Additional information about Mrs. Ledbetter is available at www.lillyledbetter.com.