Women Trailblazers: Lilly Ledbetter's Fight For Fair Pay

May 9, 2013 Updated May 9, 2013 at 9:46 PM EDT

By WKBW Admin

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May 9, 2013 Updated May 9, 2013 at 9:46 PM EDT

The latest numbers show women still making about 25% less then men for the same work. Any progress we've made so far comes from trailblazers like Lilly Ledbetter, the Alabama woman who spoke in Buffalo last month about her battle for equal pay. Here's Eyewitness News anchor Joanna Pasceri.

You may have heard her name, but you might not know her story. She is the woman behind the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act signed into law by President Obama in 2009.

It all began with a legal battle 11 years earlier when Ledbetter, a production supervisor at a Goodyear tire plant in Alabama, filed an equal pay lawsuit against her employer.

Ledbetter found out she was making 40% less than her male counterparts.

The law in place at the time was the Civil Rights Act of 1964, signed by President Johnson. Ledbetter won her case, lost on appeal and then took it all the way to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court justices ruled 5-4 against her, with the dissenting justices saying she had to act within 180 days of her first paycheck. In the updated Fair Pay Act of 2009, it's 180 days after receiving any discriminatory paycheck.

Ledbetter's lower salary also affected her retirement. The 75-year old is now a widow with a smaller pension and social security benefits.

Ledbetter never saw a penny in back pay, but she has no regrets. Even though the Fair Pay Act of 2009 bears her name, she says it's not about her.

"There's nothing special about me. I am not unique," said Ledbetter. "I am just the tip of the iceberg because these stories are across the United States."