Obama, choosing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act as the first bill to sign as president, called it a "wonderful day" and declared that ending pay disparities between men and woman an issue not just for women, but for all workers.
With Ledbetter standing by his side, Obama said she lost more than $200,000 in salary, and even more in pension and Social Security benefits losses that she "still feels today." He then signed the measure that effectively nullifies a 2007 Supreme Court decision and makes it easier for workers to sue for discrimination by allowing them more time to do so.
"Making our economy work means making sure it works for everyone," Obama said. "That there are no second class citizens in our workplaces, and that it's not just unfair and illegal — but bad for business — to pay someone less because of their gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion or disability."
Ledbetter said she didn't become aware of the large discrepancy in her pay until she neared the end of her 19-year career at a Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. plant in Gadsden, Ala, and she filed a lawsuit. But the high court held in a 5-4 decision that she missed her chance to bring the action.