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GFWC Volunteer in Spotlight at President Obama’s First Bill Signing

Alabama clubwoman Lilly Ledbetter is honored as bill carrying her name crosses President’s desk

Washington, D.C. – January 29, 2009 – The General Federation of Women’s Clubs congratulates club member Lilly Ledbetter on the historic passage of the federal law carrying her name, which President Obama signed today in a ceremony at the White House. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act eliminates the statute of limitations on how much time workers have to file a claim of workplace discrimination, and reminds employers that pay discrimination is never an acceptable practice.

Lilly Ledbetter, a member of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs since 1999 and a former District II Director from Jacksonville, Ala., became famous as the subject of a 2007 Supreme Court case, Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. Her national prominence increased during the 2008 Presidential election season, based in large part on the strength of advocacy work by a number of national women’s and civil rights organizations, including GFWC. In September 2008, the volunteer Federation sent 200 members to Capitol Hill to talk about the Act with their U.S. Senators. Lilly Ledbetter accompanied her fellow clubwomen to the Day on the Hill.

“We are thrilled for Lilly and so happy that this issue is on the national forefront now,” said GFWC International President Rose M. Ditto, Ph.D. “This is a great statement of support not just for women but for all who might suffer discrimination in the workplace. GFWC is so proud to have been a part of this historic legislation.”

In 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 in favor of Goodyear Tire, overturning years of established case law and requiring victims of pay discrimination to file a claim within six months of the original inequitable paycheck. The practical reality of the decision negatively impacts most claimants who might not be aware of pay discrimination under years or even decades after it begins. The new law signed by President Obama today clarifies that discrimination occurs each time the unfair compensation is paid, not just the first time.

The passage of Lilly’s bill is now part of GFWC’s history as a major advocacy initiative, along the lines of the passage of the Pure Food and Drug and Violence Against Women Acts, in which GFWC also played a major advocacy role. “GFWC clubwomen have proven time and again that, when an issue matters to this group of women, no barrier is too large to overcome,” notes Ardie Hollifield, GFWC’s public policy director.

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