Justice Ginsburg has long championed gender equality

By Kimberly Atkins

The Daily Record Newswire

When the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., holding that Lilly Ledbetter's gender-based unequal pay claim was time barred, the decision made headlines not only for what it said, but for what dissenting Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said about it in a stinging dissent she read from the bench.

''Ledbetter's [trial] evidence demonstrated that her current pay was discriminatorily low due to a long series of decisions reflecting Goodyear's pervasive discrimination against women managers in general and Ledbetter in particular. ...Yet, under the Court's decision, the discrimination Ledbetter proved is not redressable under Title VII,'' Ginsburg said.

''Each and every pay decision she did not immediately challenge wiped the slate clean.''

Ginsburg urged Congress to act to amend the law to allow claims based on years-long patterns of wage discrimination to go forward, and lawmakers obliged - passing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act - the first measure signed into law by President Barack Obama.

That law resets the statute of limitations on unequal pay claims with the issuance of every disparate paycheck.

But as ABA Journal writer Stephanie Francis Ward's profile of the justice reveals, Ginsburg's passion for gender equality goes way back - from her work as a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union taking on gender discrimination suits, to co-founding the Women's Rights Law Reporter as a Rutgers Law School faculty member, the first U.S. law journal to focus solely on women, to joining in a class action lawsuit herself against Rutgers after she discovered that her salary was lower than those of her male colleagues.

''It takes women and men who are feminists'' to achieve gender equality, Ginsburg told Ward.

''By feminists I mean people who think women should have equal chances to do whatever their talent permits them to do. They have to be willing to ask for these accommodations. It's more than asking-it's expecting how workplaces should be organized.''

Ward's interview with Ginsburg can be seen in two podcasts from the ABA Journal.

Published: Mon, Sep 27, 2010


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