MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - A woman whose court battle inspired a federal law on equal pay for women campaigned in Madison Wednesday for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett.
Lily Ledbetter blasted Governor Scott Walker for signing a bill last month that prohibits victims of job discrimination from suing their employers in state courts for punitive damages.
It repealed a 2009 law by Democrats which made it easier to file and win damages than in the more expensive federal court system – which Republicans say is still a remedy for those discriminated against.
No one ever filed suit under the state law, but Ledbetter said it was because employers made sure they were in compliance.
Women’s groups have used the repeal against Walker in the recall election, saying it’s part of a national “war on women” by the GOP. The Walker camp downplayed Ledbetter’s comments, and accused Barrett of trying to steer attention away from his record as Milwaukee mayor.
Ledbetter won a $3.8 million jury award after being paid less than her co-workers over 19 years at a tire plant in Alabama. But the U.S. Supreme Court nullified the award in 2007, saying she filed her claim too late.
Congress passed a law in 2009 to give women more time to file such claims, and it was the first bill President Obama signed into law.