Ever heard of Lilly Ledbetter? Probably not unless you live in Alabama. Lilly is a seventy-year-old widow. She worked in the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company in Gadsden, Alabama for almost twenty years. Toward the end of her tenure she learned that she (and the other women) were not paid as much as the men who did the same jobs. Now Lilly could have just taken her retirement check and bowed out. But the injustice of not being paid the same thing as her male co-workers for all the years stuck in her craw. She sued the company and a federal court granted her a 4 million dollar settlement. But the Goodyear Company took the case all the way to the Supreme Court where her claim was denied.It seems there is a law which says if you are discriminated against at work you have 180 days to bring suit. This is why the Supreme Court turned down her case. Companies, of course, do not usually open up their salary scale to their workers or the public. She worked there for almost 20 years before she discovered this inequity.
Last week one of the first bills that President Obama signed was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Lilly stood just behind the President when he said that under this new law it will be easier for women and others to sue for pay discrimination. This new law does not affect Lilly personally--but women all over the country owe Lilly Ledbetter a standing ovation.
Funny how it works. You see an injustice and stand up and fight. Sometimes you win. Not often enough. But Lilly ought to be a role model for us all. Her simple act of standing up to this wrong has changed working relations from the way things are to the way they should be. Lilly, we tip our hats to you.