Lilly Ledbetter, Equal Pay Advocate
Lilly Ledbetter on her battle to achieve equal pay for women nationwide.
Equal Pay Advocate
Ledbetter shares the story of her battle to achieve equal pay for women nationwide. Her crusade to remedy the gender-based pay discrimination that she suffered received national attention and her activism led to the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009.
LILLY LEDBETTER: It was so embarrassing to me to have to go in and sound like a whiner, a complainer, and to say, "They don't treat me fair."
Working for Goodyear, the management job was an excellent job for a woman. It was hard. It was dirty. But it was still a good manager's job. In '96, I was given the top performance award based on my record.
And when I looked and saw how much those men were making, it was so devastating. So humiliating. I don't think I've ever had a lower feeling in my whole life. So I put the note in my pocket, and I continued on my shift. And about halfway through the night, it hit me. All of my retirements, all of my savings, everything that I had tried to do for the future was short-changed. So we ended up in federal court in January of 2003.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, "These people don't understand what it's like in the real world." And they don't. People don't stand around water coolers discussing their pay. She said, "The ball is in Congress' court, and I challenge them to do something about this great injustice." And they did.
Walking down that red carpet with the president was an answer to some prayers, because I feel like that my young granddaughter and the women that my grandsons will someday marry, that they will have a better opportunity. And that's what it will take, is equal pay for equal work.