Ledbetter To Testify Before Senate Judiciary Panel Leahy Notices Pay Equity Hearing For September 23

WASHINGTON (Tuesday, September 16, 2008) – As the U.S. Supreme Court nears the start of its 2008-2009 session, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold another hearing in its series examining trends in the Court’s decisions in recent sessions and their implications for the lives of ordinary Americans.  The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear testimony from Lilly Ledbetter at a September 23 hearing, Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced today.  Ledbetter, a working mother, was a supervisor at Goodyear Tire; her pay discrimination verdict was overruled by the Supreme Court in a narrow 5-4 decision. 


Ledbetter’s story has been widely reported since the Supreme Court’s 2007 decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.  Just weeks before her retirement, Ledbetter discovered an anonymous note indicating that her employer had been paying her significantly less than male coworkers with the same position.  Because Ledbetter was unaware of the discriminatory pay for years, she did not file a claim for protection under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act until she became of aware of the disparity.  An employee of Goodyear for more than 20 years, a jury found that Ledbetter was owed an estimated $225,000 in back pay.  The Supreme Court ruling, however, overturned the jury verdict and eliminated any chance of recovering the lost wages or restored retirement benefits.  Since the ruling, Ledbetter has become a champion for equal pay for equal work.


The hearing, entitled “Barriers to Justice: Examining Equal Pay for Equal Work,” is the third in a series of hearings Leahy has chaired this year to examine the impact on Americans of recent Supreme Court decisions that have favored big businesses over individuals, and shielded corporations from responsibility.  Decisions like the one in Ledbetter have ignored the intent of Congress and the purpose of our civil rights laws.


In August, Leahy filed an amicus brief in an upcoming case that will be argued before the Supreme Court, Wyeth v. Diana Levine.  Wyeth is challenging a jury’s decision to awardVermont musician Diana Levine damages for the administration of a Wyeth-manufactured narcotic that resulted in the amputation of Levine’s arm.  The case will be heard by the Supreme Court on November 3 and could impact the millions of Americans who take pharmaceutical drugs. 


The September 23 hearing featuring Ledbetter’s testimony will be webcast live on the new Senate Judiciary Committee website.


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The Senate Committee on the Judiciary has scheduled a hearing onBarriers to Justice:  Examining Equal Pay for Equal Work for Tuesday, September 23, 2008 at 10:00 a.m. in Room 216 of the Hart Senate OfficeBuilding.


By order of the Chairman 

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