CHICAGO–(ENEWSPF)–October 14, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today was joined by other public officials and activists to recognize Lilly Ledbetter, the national leader in the fight for equal pay for women. At an event held at the Chicago Cultural Center, Ledbetter shared her story that led to the signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act by President Obama in 2009. During the event, the Governor also proclaimed today as Lilly Ledbetter Day in Illinois.
“Lilly Ledbetter’s inspiring message and tireless activism helped to reshape federal law to ensure that women and men earn equal pay for equal work,” said Governor Quinn. “Today, we salute Lilly for reminding us that we must continue to fight to protect women’s fundamental rights by strengthening our labor and human rights laws.”
As Ledbetter neared retirement after nearly 20 years of working at the Goodyear Tire and Rubber plant in Gadsden, Ala., she discovered a large pay gap that existed between her and her male colleagues, which had cost her lost wages and lowered retirement earnings. Ledbetter won a jury verdict of more than $3 million after having filed a gender pay discrimination suit in federal court, but the U.S. Supreme Court later overturned the lower court’s ruling. She continued to raise awareness about unfair pay practices until Congress finally passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
“Hearing Lilly Ledbetter tell us her story first hand underscores the importance of our everyday work and the struggle for fairness in the workplace,” said Rocco Claps, IDHR Director. “Whether through our investigations of individual charges or through sponsoring programs such as this today, we recommit ourselves to fighting discrimination in Illinois.”
“Lilly Ledbetter’s story of courage reminds us of the sacrifices required to advance the cause of pay equity,” said Catherine Shannon, IDOL Director. “We thank her for continuing the fight – likewise, we will keep working diligently to ensure pay equity in the workplace.”
Governor Quinn was joined by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and other state officials at today’s event.
In August 2009, Governor Quinn expanded protections under Illinois’ Equal Pay Act by extending the time period for individuals to file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Labor and the statute of limitations for individuals to sue for back pay in state court. Governor Quinn also signed a law that requires institutions of higher education covered by the Illinois Human Rights Act to prominently display posters outlining sexual harassment laws and policies. Most recently, the Governor proclaimed Aug. 26, 2010 as Women’s Equality Day, and was joined by local and federal governments to commemorate the 90th anniversary of women’s right to vote.