By Foon Rhee, Globe Staff
President Obama invited her to his inauguration, and rather soon she'll be at the White House to see him sign what will almost certainly be the first bill of his presidency.
Lilly Ledbetter, a 70-year-old retired tire worker from Alabama, is the name on the bill making it easier for women and others to sue for pay discrimination, even if the discrimination was years before. The House passed it today on a 250-177 vote; it earlier was approved by the Senate.
Ledbetter was also the lead plaintiff in the Supreme Court case that the bill overturns and became a cause celebre for Democrats and labor and women's groups.
The high court said in 2007 that a worker must file a claim of discrimination within 180 days of a company's initial decision to pay them less than another worker doing the same job. Ledbetter argued that she did not become aware of the pay discrepancy until near the end of her 19 years at a Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. plant in Gadsden, Ala.
The Bush administration and Senate Republicans blocked the bill last year. "What a difference a new Congress and a president make," Representative George Miller, the bill's primary sponsor, said, according to the Associated Press.
John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO, hailed the House approval.
"This swift reversal of the flawed Supreme Court decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company comes as women, people of color, older Americans and people with disabilities continue to face pay discrimination in the workplace. Every discriminatory paycheck received by a worker is an insult to his or her dignity – and this legislation makes that clear," he said in a statement.
"We are heartened that this legislation was made a top priority of the new Congress and administration, because it demonstrates a return to the common sense values of hard working Americans."
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.