Move over ‘Joe the Plumber’ – here comes ‘Lilly the Tire Manager’

ledbetterA Supreme Court precedent may soon become history, and the move involves the Democrats’ answer to “Joe the Plumber.”

Her name is Lilly Ledbetter, and since the May 2007 Supreme Court decision that the statute of limitations for her disparate pay claims under Title VII was not restarted with each unequal paycheck she was issued, she has become a legal folk hero for Democrats seeking to reverse the ruling.

That may happen soon, according to The New York Times, which reports that a bill overturning Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. may be among the first to get Barack Obama’s signature after he takes office.

“Obama said he would see me in the White House when he signs the bill,” Ledbetter, a former manager at a Alabama Goodyear tire plant, told the Times in an interview.

Democrats want to move quickly on the legislation, which stalled in the last Congress after facing a surefire veto threat from President George W. Bush. Since the Supreme Court’s ruling, courts around the country have been throwing out discrimination claims involving litigants who claimed, as Ledbetter did, that they were unaware of the unequal pay until after the statutory period to file suit had passed. Some of those courts actually reversed themselves, stopping claims that would have otherwise gone forward.

Last September, at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the issue, Chairman Patrick Leahy said overturning the ruling was necessary to allow courts to protect citizens’ civil rights. “Our courts are an essential mechanism to enforce the civil rights laws that Congress has passed – laws that protect women, the elderly, minorities, and the disabled,” Leahy said. “Those laws are reduced to hollow words on a page if judges issue rulings like the one rendered by the Supreme Court in Lilly Ledbetter’s case.”

See past coverage for the Ledbetter case and its effect here from Lawyers USA. (Sub. Req’d)

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