Teaming Up to Win Fair Pay Legislation

nwlc_lilly_ledbetter“I worked as a supervisor at the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company plant in Gadsden, Alabama, for close to two decades. I was paid less than my male co-workers the entire time—even though I was doing the same work they were and doing it well. Near the end of my time there, I received an anonymous note alerting me to the discrimination, and I decided to fight for justice.

“In 1998, less than a month after receiving the note, I filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and then sued Goodyear in a federal district court under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. A jury found that Goodyear had discriminated against me and awarded me $3 million in damages.

“The company appealed my case and, in the Spring of 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an appellate court ruling that said I should have filed my complaint within 180 days of receiving my first discriminatory paycheck.

“My case set a new and disastrous precedent, but the National Women’s Law Center and its allies helped me fight back. Together we worked hard to pass the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which President Obama signed into law on January 29, 2009. The Supreme Court got it wrong, but now all employees have a better shot at pay equity.

“My case is over, and I will never be compensated for the many years I was paid less than my male colleagues. But the struggle for pay equity is not over. I continue to fight alongside the National Women’s Law Center for legislation to improve the law so that our daughters and granddaughters will have a chance for a better future.”

— Lilly Ledbetter