Lilly Ledbetter, Equal Pay Activist
For almost twenty years, Lilly Ledbetter worked at a Goodyear Tire and Rubber plant in Alabama. As she neared retirement, she learned that she was paid much less than the men who held the same job. She was paid $3,727 a month while the men were paid from $4,286 to $5,236 a month for the very same work.¹
A jury found in her favor, that she was the victim of pay discrimination. But it didn’t end there. Her employer took the case to the Supreme Court where her claim was denied because she didn’t sue as soon as the pay disparity began. It turns out that the clock started ticking when her company first paid her less than the others holding the same job. She would have had to make a claim within 180 days of the first pay difference. Otherwise, the law assumed the pay difference was acceptable.
Because the case reached the Supreme Court, it generated a good bit of publicity. The result is that the U.S. Congress passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The Act changes the statute of limitations. The 180-day period remains but it restarts with every paycheck that is discriminatory.
While Lilly Ledbetter did not recover any of the pay difference, she has become an advocate for equal pay. Her name will always be linked with pay equity.