WOMEN
01/30/2017 03:09 pm ET

Obama Spent His First Week In Office Championing Women's Rights To Equal Pay

The Obama Foundation looks back.
Barack Obama signs the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act on January 29, 2009, with Ledbetter standing behind him as he
Jason Reed / Reuters
Barack Obama signs the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act on January 29, 2009, with Ledbetter standing behind him as he signs. 

During President Donald Trump’s first weeks in office, the newly-launched Obama Foundation is looking back on the former president’s legacy through storytelling. This week, eight years after the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the foundation is featuring a story from Lilly Ledbetter herself. 

The post, “Lilly Ledbetter Remembers,” was created in collaboration with Story Corps and is part of the Obama Foundation’s “Our Story” timeline. It features Ledbetter speaking about the moment she realized she was making 40 percent less than her male counterparts at the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company plant in Alabama.

“I was humiliated. I was embarrassed...I just wanted to go and hide,” she says. 

But instead of hiding, she took her employer to court. Eventually, her case reached the Supreme Court. In May 2007, the Supreme Court did not rule in her favor, saying that she could not take action against Goodyear for pay discrimination due to the 180-day statute of limitations (as per the Civil Rights Act of 1964). But in 2009, after his historic presidential win, then-President Barack Obama acted to fulfill what the Supreme Court did not ― he amended the Civil Rights Act with the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act.

Obama signed the act on January 29, 2009 ― his first act  president. Then, in April of 2014, Obama signed an Executive Order preventing workplace discrimination against employees who openly discuss compensation ― thus protecting women for inquiring about their employer’s pay practices.  

“So many people have benefitted after that bill passed,” Ledbetter says in the interview. “I’m so grateful and so very proud of it.”

Head over to the Obama Foundation to hear her whole story.

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