It was a huge privilege to hear Lilly Ledbetter address the Payfactors CompCon event this week in Boston, USA. A women’s equality activist, renowned plaintiff in the Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 550 U.S. 618 (2007) and author of the book Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond she shared her insights into her own personal journey to Equal Pay.
In 1998, Ledbetter filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against her employer, Goodyear Tires in Gadsden, Alabama, after she was slipped an anonymous note showing that her salary was significantly less than that of her three male counterparts. The next year, she filed a federal lawsuit against the company and later went to court to fight Goodyear for equal pay. She won the lawsuit but lost on appeal and has never received any compensation.
But Lilly continued to fight for equal pay, becoming the namesake of President Barack Obama’s first official piece of legislation, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.
“She knew it was too late for her — that this bill wouldn’t undo the years of injustice she faced or restore the earnings she was denied,” Obama said back then. “But this grandmother from Alabama kept on fighting, because she was thinking about the next generation.”
Her determination exemplifies the commitment we need to bring about true wage equality, and close the Gender Pay Gap in a generation.
And she still doesn’t know who sent the anonymous note that started it all!