Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

by Delaney Daveler

Step One: Recognizing the Problem

Lilly Ledbetter was the only female production supervisor at Goodyear Tire and Rubber’s plant in Gadsen, Alabama. She worked in the plant for 20 years but took early retirement in 1998. She was transferred to a lower level job where she worked on the production floor. 6 months after she retired, she filed a charge for gender discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The jury concluded she had suffered illegal pay discrimination because of her gender. Her salary was 40% lower than the lowest paid male supervisor. Ledbetter was awarded over $3.5 million in punitive damages, which was reduced by the judge to $360,000 in accordance with Title VII’s cap on damages. Goodyear then appealed the case saying that Ledbetter filed her claim with the EEOC over 180 days prior to when her pay raise when into effect on September 26, 1997. The judge agreed with Goodyear and made her give up the full $360,000.

Step Two: Formulating the Policy

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was influenced by other bills and laws before it was adopted.

Equal Pay Act: In 1963, President Kennedy passed the Equal Pay Act. This act amended the Fair Labor Standards Act meaning that employers can’t pay someone less money than another employee, who does the same work, that is of the opposite gender.

Paycheck Fairness Act: This act was meant to expand the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and to further amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. The act provided help to victims of gender discrimination. In November 2010, the Senate still did nothing with the bill until April 2011 when President Obama wanted the bill to be reintroduced in both chambers. It was again rejected.

Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act: This bill was first introduced in 2007 but was not passed. But on January 8, 2009 it was reintroduced to the Senate by Barbara Mikulski. This was the first law that President Obama passed on January 29, 2009. This law revised the previous law which said that you had to file a complaint within 180 days of the first pay check. Now the new law says you have 180 days from when you first find out you are getting paid less, to file a claim from the discrimination happened. But the Act states that plaintiffs can still recover back pay but for no more than 2 years before they challenge the discrimination.

Step Three: Adopting the Policy

After the Supreme Court ruled against her, Congress passed the bill saying that you have 180 days from when you first find out you are making less money to file the complaint. After Congress passed the bill, President Obama signed it into law. The vote in Congress was a 61- 36 vote and the House of Representatives passed the bill with a 250-177 vote.

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act states that the following is considered unlawful employment practice when...

- A discriminatory compensation decision or other practice is adopted

- An individual becomes subject to the decision or practice; or

- An individual is affected by application of the decision or practice, including each time wages, benefits, or other compensation is paid.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, left, and Lilly Ledbetter watch as President Barack Obama signs the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Play Act in the East Room of the White House. The bill, named after a retired worker at a Goodyear factory in Alabama who discovered she was paid less than her male counterparts.

President Obama Signs the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

Step Four: Implementing the Policy

This new law is a big step in the Administration’s pursuit for equal pay. When the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 was signed into law, President Obama said that he was committed to making it so women get equal pay. With this new law, a woman can now file for discrimination when it is first found out she will be making less money.

According to the White House, the Lilly Ledbetter Act was a significant step in the Administration’s pursuit of equal pay. In addition, the Administration has supported effective enforcement of equal pay and other key civil rights laws through its budgets for civil rights enforcement agencies. The Fiscal Year 2011 President’s Budget provides an 11% increase for the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, on top of an 18% increase in the Division’s budget last year. Funding for the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs is increased by 10% in the President’s Budget, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received a 5% increase in the President’s Budget in addition to increases last year. With these increases, as President Obama promised in the State of the Union address, we will better enforce the equal pay laws.

Step Five: Evaluating the Policy

The new law is working but there is still room for improvement. Women are still making less than their male coworkers. Women make 77 cents to every $1 a man makes. Although women are still not making as much, the wage gap has improved greatly. Of course there is still work to be done to make the pay more fair.

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Some people on the other hand believe that women deserve to be paid less then men. Their arguments were women aren't as hard working as men are. Another one was that women talk too much while they are at work and that disturbs the work environment.

"You always have a chip on your shoulder because you are aware you shouldn't receive the same amount as men and as a consequence, you try to compensate by harming others. If create theories, and studies as to why you should be equal, but never once are you accountable for disrupting the workforce, and, again, play the victim card if your feet are held to the fire."

"Men are clearly harder workers and therefore deserve higher wages. Anyone who says otherwise likely belongs in a place other than the professional workplace."

Yes, these are real things people said. With that said, you can see things are still not equal for women but we have made amazing progress so far.


- Brake, Deborah, and Joanna Grossman. "Title VII’s Protection Against Pay Discrimination: The Impact of Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co." Regional Labor Review 1 Oct. 2007. Print.

- "Paycheck Fairness Act and Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act." National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity. Web. 14 Nov. 2014. <>.

- "Paycheck Fairness Act and Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act." National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity. Web. 14 Nov. 2014. <>.

-Stolberg, Sheryl. "Obama Signs Equal-Pay Legislation." The New York Times. The New York Times, 29 Jan. 2009. Web. 17 Nov. 2014. <>.

- "National Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force." White House. Web. 17 Nov. 2014. <>.