“My guest tonight became the face of equal pay for women,” host Stephen Colbert said, introducing her. “Tonight I will pay her just as much attention as I pay my male guests.”
Ledbetter told Colbert, whose TV persona is a parody of conservative political pundits, how she ended up becoming the women’s rights advocate with a federal law bearing her name. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was the first bill signed into law by President Barack Obama.
Ledbetter told Colbert she discovered that she had been making 40 percent less than the three white males doing the exact same job that she had been as an overnight supervisor at the Gadsden Goodyear tire plant.
Colbert asked Ledbetter about the course of her lawsuit against the company, for which she was awarded $3 million by a lower court. That ruling was later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.
“How did it feel to have another group of men take away your money?” Colbert asked.
“Pretty devastating,” said Ledbetter, who told of her quest to make sure what happened to her doesn’t “to happen to any other American family,” she said.
“I’m just the tip of the iceberg,” she said. “The United States is full of women in the same situation, and so many of them have to move in the home with their children.”
“This has become a very popular law with women for whatever reason, and they’re a coveted demographic of voters in this election,” Colbert said. “Mitt Romney is not against this law, right? He has said he’s neither for it nor against it, so we can assume he’s for it, right?”
Ledbetter, who spoke at the Democratic National Convention and has been actively campaigning for Obama, said Romney’s staff has said they’d get back to her about whether or not he supports her namesake legislation.
“Maybe he’s just trying to keep a great surprise,” Colbert said. “Like when he gets into office, he’ll sign a law giving you twice the pay.”
“I don’t think so,” she said.
“What if women hold out and just see what’s behind door number Mitt?” Colbert asked.
“I wouldn’t advise that,” Ledbetter said, straight-faced.
Colbert plugged Ledbetter’s memoir, “Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond,” asking if he had to pay full price for the book.
“Absolutely. I need the money,” she quipped.
“Will no one hire you because they’re afraid you’ll sue them?” Colbert asked the retiree, who laughed, “You got it!”
Staff writer Paige Rentz: 256-235-3564. On Twitter @PRentz_Star.