Every Easter, my grandfather Stanley would give my grandmother Irene a lovely lily plant. White lilies represent virtue, the Peruvian version represents devotion, the white stargazer represents sympathy, and the pink stargazer represents prosperity. However, Ms. Lily Ledbetter represents equality for women.
Lilly Ledbetter worked for Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. from 1979- 1998. One day at work, she received a note showing that her pay was considerably lower than her male coworkers. In fact, Ms. Ledbetter was paid almost $500 less a month than her lowest paid male counterpart and $1500 less than the top male counterpart. As a result, she eventually sued the company.
Ledbetter endured many hardships and obstacles fighting for equal pay. A supervisor wanted her to sleep with him in order to get a promotion and she was demoted after asking questions about pay. Her husband had severe health problems during her long court battles and eventually passed away. Ledbetter’s case against Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co took 9 long years to be realized.
When Ledbetter’s case finally made it to the Supreme Court, conservative judges failed justice by an idiotic technicality. Because she didn’t make a claim within the first 180 days of her employment, the lawsuit was outside the statute of limitations. What a sham and disgrace this ruling was. Robert Barnes of The Washington Post quoted Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsburg: “In our view, the court does not comprehend, or is indifferent to, the insidious way in which women can be victims of pay discrimination…”
The Supreme Court failed at justice for women. However Congress, according to their website, passed S.181- Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009: “A bill to amend title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, and to modify the operation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, to clarify that a discriminatory compensation decision or other practice that is unlawful under such Acts occurs each time compensation is paid pursuant to the discriminatory compensation decision or other practice, and for other purposes.” Ledbetter’s response: I’m just thrilled that this has finally passed and sends a message to the Supreme Court: You got it wrong.”
Lily failed to be compensated for lost pay, retirement, social security, time, and heartache. However, her struggle will make it a better tomorrow for future generations. Today she is an activist, writer, mother, and grandmother. Ledbetter: “Prepare to make a stand and you’ll be retaliated against.”