Lilly Ledbetter, namesake of the Lilly Ledbetter Act has galvanized the equal pay movement. Ledbetter pursued a career with Goodyear tire factory in 1979 and was the first woman with a managerial position for the company. She faced regular sexual harassment and gender discrimination, but stayed with the company for nineteen years hoping she could change the situation.
Beginning in 1998 Ledbetter filed discrimination claims against Goodyear tire factory when she received an anonymous tip that she was being paid thousands of dollars less than her male counterparts. After her initial claims, her employers retaliated by adding tire lifting to her job description. Ledbetter pushed on, and won the first ruling, but after eight years the claims reached the Supreme Court level, and the ruling was overturned in favor of Goodyear.
The loss did not stop Ledbetter. In 2009 Obama signed his first act as president, the Lilly Ledbetter Equal Pay Act. While Ledbetter never received compensation from Goodyear for her time, discrimination, and loss she stated, “I'm just thrilled that this has finally passed and sends a message to the Supreme Court: You got it wrong.”
Ledbetter chronicles her fight for equality beginning in Possum Trot, Alabama, to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act, in 2009 in her book Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond with Lanier Scott Isom.
She continues her work as an advocate for women’s rights and equal pay speaking at events such as the National Democratic Convention, Closing the Gap, and has been featured on the Colbert Report. Like many women, the unequal pay wages hurt her retirement and she now lives a humble life as a grandmother of four in____, while she continues her advocacy.