Lilly Ledbetter: She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, She Persisted.
2017 was the year of #MeToo, the year of reckoning, fairness and consequence. In order for equality to exist, we must not forget that the real shakeup in society has always come through persistence and belief. However, despite the strides made already, women still only make 77 cents to a dollar that a man makes. Lilly Ledbetter is one such lady who fought (and continues to fight) to end this prejudice.
Lily Ledbetter worked as an area manager at Goodyear Tires & Rubber Co. in Gadsden, Alabama. In 1998, after 19 years at Goodyear Tires, Lilly Ledbetter learned that there were years of discriminatory wage discrepancies between her and her fellow workers. Astounded, Ledbetter complained against Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission. Her Employer retaliated by assigning her to manual labor. Ledbetter then filed a discrimination suit against her Employer, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. The court decided in her favor and the jury awarded her more than $3 million but Goodyear Tires appealed and her win was overturned. She then took her case of employment discrimination to the Supreme Court but lost 5-4 because of a technical loophole. The reasoning was that she only had 180 days to file a complaint since receiving her first discriminatory paycheck. Lilly Ledbetter was barred by the statute of limitations, prompting Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to read her dissent from the bench and urge Lilly to keep fighting.
Ms. Ledbetter continued championing the cause of wage discrimination. In August 2008 she spoke at the Democratic National Convention about pay equity. When President Obama got elected, he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law, the first official legislation of his Administration. The new law relaxed the time limitation on filing discrimination cases, allowing the 180-day clock to reset every time an individual experiences an act of discrimination.
Although Lilly Ledbetter never received any restitution from Goodyear for the discrimination she faced, she fought to pass legislation ensuring that other women would not have to deal with the same inequities she did. She is now a civil rights activist, urging women and minorities to fight for pay equity.