WLD and IGE to co-sponsor program featuring Lilly Ledbetter by Tracy Carbasho The woman who made corporate America think twice about fair pay and gender equality is coming to Duquesne University. Lilly Ledbetter, whose actions were the foundation for the Fair Pay Act of 2009, has included the university as a stop on her book tour. She will be the keynote speaker during a special lunch event on April 16 at noon in the William Patrick Power Center on campus. A former employee of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., Ledbetter was paid less than her male co-workers who were doing the same work for nearly two decades. She filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and a jury eventually awarded her $3 million in damages. However, Goodyear appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which reversed the jury verdict. The high court held that the statute of limitations for presenting an equal-pay lawsuit begins on the date the employer makes the initial discriminatory wage decision. In Ledbetter's case, she did not know her wages were lower than her male co-workers until she received an anonymous tip after she had worked at the company for nearly 20 years. The Fair Pay Act amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to specify that the statute of limitations for filing an equal-pay lawsuit regarding pay discrimination resets with each new discriminatory paycheck. When Ledbetter comes to Pittsburgh, she will be available to answer questions and to sign copies of Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond, which describes her decade-long court battle for equal pay. Her visit was spearheaded by Ken Gormley, Dean of the Duquesne University School of Law. Gormley, a former president of the ACBA, believes Ledbetter embodies the same values of gender equality that the bar association is working to advance. "Her actions and the subsequent legislation changed the dialogue and made sure there is a keen awareness of fair pay issues, especially in the corporate realm," said Gormley. "This was a wakeup call for corporations to make sure issues are being handled responsibly. The Fair Pay Act was a pivotal piece of legislation causing corporate America to take stock in their policies." The event is being co-sponsored by the ACBA Women in the Law Division and the ACBA Institute for Gender Equality (IGE). "Lilly Ledbetter's story needs to be heard by everyone. For years, she personally suffered because of gender discrimination and harassment in her workplace," said Jeanine DeBor, Director of Law Alumni Relations and Development at Duquesne and chair of the Women in the Law Division. "Although she lost her case on a technicality, her fight for fairness continued until the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 was signed by the president. The fact that this legislation was signed into law only three years ago is somewhat disheartening. This is why we need to hear about her struggle." DeBor hopes that co-sponsoring this event with the IGE will be the start of many collaborative projects between the two entities in an effort to raise awareness about fairness issues. "We as a society move forward when our government enacts such laws as the Fair Pay Act," she said. "We as lawyers are bound to uphold this law both in the courtroom and in our practices." Alysia Keating, ACBA Director of Diversity and Gender Equality, pointed out that the IGE was founded in large part to aid in the elimination of gender wage gaps in the legal profession in Allegheny County. These gaps were highlighted in both the 1990 and 2005 surveys of the ACBA membership. "In working towards the elimination of the wage gap, we must first educate members of our legal community about the fact that the wage gap exists not only in the legal profession, but also in other professions," said Keating. "By encouraging members of the ACBA and other members of the community to attend this luncheon and hear Ms. Ledbetter's story and her experience, we are doing just that. After hearing her story, hopefully both men and women will feel inspired and empowered to do what is necessary to bring about needed change." Keating said what she finds most compelling about Ledbetter's story is that she is a hard-working individual who suffered an injustice in the process of trying to help her family and decided to do something about it. "She is not rich, famous, or powerful in the ways we might expect someone who is asked to speak at luncheons like this to be," she said. "She may have lost her personal battle, but she brought the attention of our country and the world to this issue and helped make it possible for workers who are discriminated against in their employment on the basis of gender to have a fair chance to sue their employers. Her courage is inspiring and her story is empowering." The cost to attend the lunch and presentation is $25 and individuals can register by visiting www.myduquesne.duq.edu/ledbetter. The event is open to the public. DeBor said students who want to attend the lecture only should e-mail lawalumni@duq.edu for information. Gormley said proceeds will be used to provide paid internships to students who want to work in public interest law. A special continuing legal education program will be held in conjunction with the Ledbetter lunch. The CLE event will be held on April 21 from 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. in Room 203 of Hanley Hall at the Duquesne University School of Law. The CLE topics will be "Ledbetter and the Gender Wage Gap" and "Qui Tam Litigation Under the Federal and State Whistleblower Laws: A Practitioner's View From the Front After 23 Years." The presenters will be Duquesne Assistant Professor of Law Rona Kaufman Kitchen and Marc Raspanti, a partner at Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti. Ledbetter, a resident of Alabama, was featured in 2009 on Oprah's list of the "Top 20 Women Who Have Made A Difference." She is in demand as a speaker throughout the United States and has been the recipient of many awards. She has received numerous honors, including but not limited to the NOW Woman of Courage Award; The American Federation of Teachers Women's Rights Award; the National Women's Law Center Award; the Winn Newman Award from The National Committee of Pay Equity; the Women's Equality Award from the National Council of Women's Organizations; and the American Association for Affirmative Action Outstanding Committee Service Award. The accolades have continued in recent years and she has been featured in countless magazine articles and books. In addition, her story is often discussed in law school classes and legal seminars. n