Ledbetter encourages MSU students to push for equality

Lilly Ledbetter speaks to a capacity Taylor Auditorium crowd at Mississippi State on Tuesday [March 27]. (Photo by Megan Bean)

Contact: James Carskadon

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Women’s equality activist Lilly Ledbetter encouraged Mississippi State students to push for positive change during a Tuesday [March 27] lecture in the university’s McCool Hall.

During the presentation, part of the Leo W. Seal Jr. Distinguished Speaker Series, Ledbetter shared her story of fighting for equal pay at Goodyear Tire, her former employer.

“Doing the right thing is not always easy,” Ledbetter said. “It wasn’t easy in my case, but I would do it again.”

During an eight-year legal battle, Ledbetter was the plaintiff in a sex discrimination lawsuit against Goodyear. She had worked with the company for 19 years before she received an anonymous note revealing she was making thousands less per year than men in the same position. She initially won the case, but the ruling was overturned on appeal. Over the ensuing years, the case made it to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2007. Although the court ruled Ledbetter did not file her lawsuit within the required statute of limitations, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg encouraged Ledbetter to keep fighting for equal pay in her dissenting opinion.

Ledbetter would go on to take her fight to the U.S. Congress, which in 2009 passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act, a law that expanded the statute of limitations for filing an equal-pay lawsuit. Former President Barack Obama signed the legislation in January 2009, the first major piece of legislation he signed into law. Now, Ledbetter travels the country to share her story and urge women and minorities to claim their civil rights.

“You have power, you have a vote,” Ledbetter told the hundreds of students in attendance. “You can call your representatives in Washington. You can be heard. You’re the one with the power.”

The Seal Distinguished Speaker Series is among campus memorials honoring the 1949 Mississippi State business graduate and longtime head of the Hancock Banking System. A Bay St. Louis native who died in 2008 at age 84, Seal was among MSU’s major supporters.

MSU’s College of Business, the oldest business school in Mississippi and among the oldest in the south, can be found at www.business.msstate.edu.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018 - 9:12 am