On January 29, 2009 President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. This event completely nullifies a 2007 United States Supreme Court decision against Lilly Ledbetter on her claim for almost twenty years of wage discrimination.

The Lilly Ledbetter case is about a middle-aged woman deeply wronged by America. Her case demonstrates that Civil Rights is in much worse shape in America than most people understand.

Lilly Ledbetter worked for Goodyear for over nineteen years before retiring. Later she found out that she was receiving about 20% less in pay than her male counterparts over most of her career as a supervisor at Goodyear. An anonymous note caused her to inquire about the matter. Otherwise, she might never have known of the wage discrimination because employee's wages were confidential at Goodyear as they are at many businesses.

The United States Supreme Court ruled that her suit was not timely even though she had no way of knowing about the disparity in pay until long after the 180 days of the first act of discrimination. The legislative change allows the statute to run from each discriminatory paycheck rather than requiring discovery of a secret act of discrimination that began years ago. In other words, the U.S. Supreme Court decision made no sense. Indeed, Justice Ginsburg made the unusual gesture of reading her dissent from the bench that these men had no clue.

What are the lessons? One is that patent discrimination still reigns supreme all over this country. Don't kid yourself about this problem and don't simply yawn and flip to a new channel. It is probably happening to you or somebody you know right now. Another lesson is that the United States Supreme Court is not a quality outfit. This is not just my opinion. Around the world, statistics demonstrate that world courts are disinclined to follow the United States Supreme Court in the legal world now, whereas once they did. Finally, we have a lot of spade work to do right here at home in Oregon in the field of civil rights.

Our Oregon State Bar recently jettisoned a nationally famous minority rights woman of Japanese descent, Stella Manabe. Ms. Manabe had won the 2003 American Bar Association "Spirit of Excellence" Award, for her development of "Opportunities for Law in Oregon" (OLIO). Then in 2005 she received the Deiz award (named after Oregon's first woman black judge) from the Oregon Woman Lawyers Association. In 2007 Stella was named a distinguished graduate from Lewis and Clark Law School. Have we righted the wrong? No. Is this ugly sore still besmirching the reputation of the Oregon State Bar? Yes. We need a Stella Manabe Fair Treatment to Minorities Act right here and right now. Let's see, 2003, 2005, 2007....
Something good is bound to happen to her in 2009! Perhaps, the citizens of Oregon and members of the Oregon State Bar can see to it that this is as good a year for Stella as Lilly has now had. When Lilly's wrong was righted, President Obama welcomed her to the White House last week for the bill signing ceremony.

Posted on Thursday, February 5, 2009 at 05:27PM by Registered CommenterLAUREN PAULSON in | Comments7 Comments

Reader Comments (7)

Lilly is a type of modern woman

February 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermp3melhor

Oregon has a law protecting workers who need to take time off for family or medical problems. It is different than the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in which workers it covers, which family members you can take time off for, how much time off they can take, and what situations are protected. If you are covered by the Oregon law, you may be able to take more time off than under FMLA.
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June 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBible Audio

Women that don't have kids may one day have kids.
Men do have child issues but they are considered second string.
Your anecdotal evidence is cute, the realities of scale show that statistics don't lie. Women are more expensive employees.

Fine, but I'm telling you employers will not raise women's pay, they will either drop men's to match women's, and then taking a profit, or they will drop men's and raise women's to some mid-level. That there is no federal legislation means men can go elsewhere where they will be paid higher wages as a result.

I have no emotional attachment to this issue, just giving an opinion here. saying "there should never" is besides the point.

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Shireen Duke is one of those rare black Portlanders whose roots here stretch long past the waves of black Southerners who came to work in the shipyards during World War II, all the way back to when Oregon's Bill of Rights excluded African Americans from living in the state.

The 55-year-old's great-grandfather came to Oregon sometime after the Civil War, and her grandfather, Horace Duke, was born here in 1888. Her grandmother, Inez Pierce Duke, moved to Portland at age 20 in 1917 and later became the first black woman licensed as an Oregon cosmetologist.

Duke's grandmother, whom she calls Nana, struggled to complete beauty school with white women who didn't want her touching their hair. But she also used her status as one of the few black licensed hairdressers to build a thriving business on North Williams Avenue.

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