Championing Fairness in the Workplace: Lilly Ledbetter Addresses Guests of Local Law Firm

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An evening of inspiration and encouragement took place this past Tuesday as professionals from the legal community, legislators, civil rights activists, and Labor leaders gathered to hear the dynamic story of Lilly Ledbetter-- from Ms. Ledbetter herself.

An evening of inspiration and encouragement took place this past Tuesday as professionals from the legal community, legislators, civil rights activists, and Labor leaders gathered to hear the dynamic story of Lilly Ledbetter-- from Ms. Ledbetter herself. Ms. Ledbetter is the champion of equal pay for equal work whose efforts led to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. The Act was enacted by Congress and signed into law by President Obama on January 29, 2009. This Act was the first piece of legislation signed by President Obama.

Attorney Clayborne E. Chavers, Sr., Esq, of the law firm of Joseph, Greenwald & Laake, P.A, hosted the event and welcomed the diverse crowd to the firm’s offices in Greenbelt, MD. “Our theme of ‘Championing Fairness in the Workplace’ is addressed most fittingly and eloquently by Ms. Ledbetter. We are honored to have her here with us.” The theme of “championing fairness” is especially important to the firm. Its practice includes expert counsel in Labor, Employment, Civil Rights Law and many other areas of expertise. Joseph, Greenwald & Laake, P.A, is renowned for its involvement and representation of issues, causes and people deserving fairness and the application of justice.

Ms. Ledbetter’s story has been told in the press and discussed in corporate boardrooms, professional organizations, government agencies, and universities. It is the story of how Ms. Ledbetter worked for nearly 20 years, earning performance awards and respect of co-workers only to discover she was paid less money than her male counterparts. What has become her very public story begins in 1979 when she was working at the Goodyear Tire and Rubber’s plant in Gadsden, Alabama. She worked there from 1979 until her retirement in 1998. She was one of the few women who was an area manager. Over the years, Goodyear paid her less than her male counterparts. In fact, her pay slipped significantly in comparison to men (in the same role) with equal or less seniority. The lawsuit she would file against them eventually reached the Supreme Court. While she will not ever receive the money that was denied her in the many years she worked for Goodyear, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act will help protect others from suffering such inequity.

“Ms. Ledbetter has become a champion of equal pay for equal work, speaking all over the country,” adds Ms. Barbara Vance of Speakers Unliminited, Inc., who arranged for Ms. Ledbetter’s appearance. “Ms. Ledbetter is well-received by numerous audiences due to her engaging and heartfelt recounting of her experiences.” In 2008 Ms. Ledbetter spoke at the Democratic National Convention in Denver on the topic of pay equity.

Mr. William “Bill” Lucy, founder and President of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (and former International Secretary Treasurer of A.F.S.C.M.E.) was also on hand for the event. Lucy commended Ms. Ledbetter about her courageous efforts when many others remained silent in the face of overt discrimination. Ms. Ledbetter relayed some of the countless stories of retribution against those who dared to take action, including herself. She added “Unfortunately the very real fear of intimidation and persecution prevent many people with families and real obligations to seek the justice they so much deserve.”

In summary, Ms. Ledbetter noted that the bottom line isn’t the money… but rather a single word in the evening’s theme – it’s about fairness. That’s why she persevered, and that’s why she continues to speak out and provide a voice.

The Labor Heritage Foundation graciously provided an expansive display of Labor-themed art for the evening. The mission of the Foundation is to strengthen the Labor movement and the voices of working people through creative artistic expression. The Foundation’s Executive Director, Darryl! Moch, added that Ms. Ledbetter voice is a strong voice for women and all working people, commenting on her upcoming journalism projects.

In closing the evening, Attorney Chavers acknowledged the attendees’ own individual journeys as “champions of fairness” encouraging their ongoing efforts each and every day forward.

Joseph Greenwald & Laake is a full service law firm with 37 lawyers, practicing in several areas, including family law, business, real estate, trust and estates, tax, criminal, employment, civil rights, personal injury and medical negligence. JGL serves local and national clients in Washington, DC, and throughout Maryland. It has offices in Montgomery, Prince George’s and Howard Counties.

Learn more about JGL at http://www.jgllaw.com.

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