Guest List for the First Lady’s Box
2009 Joint Session of Congress
Lilly Ledbetter (Jacksonville, AL) Ledbetter was the plaintiff in the American employment discrimination case Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. Ledbetter worked at the Goodyear plant in Gadsden, AL for nearly 20 years before she learned her male co-workers were paid more for the same work. She filed suit, and a federal court jury awarded her nearly $4 million. However, in 2007, the US Supreme Court said the 180-day window to file her case had closed years before, after the first unfair paycheck, even though she had no knowledge of the pay disparity between her and her male co-workers. On January 29, 2009 the President signed his first bill in office; the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act, which makes each unfair paycheck an act of discrimination, and thus reopens the 180-day window for filing a court case. In signing this bill the President upheld one of this nation's founding principles: that we are all created equal, and each deserve a chance to pursue our own version of happiness.
Thank you Mr. President
Ty'Sheoma Bethea, Student (Dillon, SC) Bethea is an eighth grader at JV Martin Junior High School in Dillon, SC. Upon hearing the President mention her school’s crumbling facility built in the 1800's during the first presidential news conference on February 9, 2009, she wanted to do something to help her school. After school hours, she walked to the public library to gain access to a computer and composed a poignant letter to Congress asking for help. Her principal, Amanda Burnette, promised to pass along the letter to Congress and the President in hopes that the students of JV Martin Junior High School can realize their dreams of becoming doctors, lawyers, and lawmakers. Bethea will be accompanied by her mother, Dina Leach.