Goodyear, You Can Spare $360K for Lilly Ledbetter

Thu, February 5, 2009


As so many women have been basking in the glow of the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the news reports reminded us that even though Lilly has become a standard bearer for the fight for fair pay for women, Lilly herself will never see a nickel of the money that she sued Goodyear Rubber & Tire for.

The Ledbetter law overturned the Supreme Court decision denying Lilly the $360,000+ of back pay and benefits that the trial court had ruled she was entitled to, but the newly signed law isn’t retroactive; it only applies to cases going forward. So the 70-year-old, recently widowed Ledbetter, who worked in a tire factory for almost 20 years to support her family, only gets the psychic benefit of knowing she was able to help other women. Hopefully.

But here’s the thing — the appeals court rulings that denied Lilly her back pay were based on a now invalid argument. So, technically, the factual finding by the trial court that Goodyear discriminated against Ledbetter would stand today. Goodyear is steadfast that it didn’t do anything wrong, according to a statement Goodyear released following the Ledbetter signing ceremony, making the corporation sound like the victim, not Lilly.

While Goodyear likes to focus on the Supreme Court’s decision that it didn’t have to pay anything because Lilly didn’t file her case under a tortured reading of the existing statute of limitations, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg summed up what was really going on in her dissent. Ginsburg, as the lone woman on the court, reminded us of “the insidious way in which women can be victims of pay discrimination.”

“The Court … overlooks common characteristics of pay discrimination. Pay disparities often occur, as they did in Ledbetter’s case, in small increments; cause to suspect that discrimination is at work develops only over time. Comparative pay information, moreover, is often hidden from the employee’s view. Employers may keep under wraps the pay differentials maintained among supervisors, no less the reasons for those differentials. Small initial discrepancies may not be seen as meet for a federal case, particularly when the employee, trying to succeed in a nontraditional environment, is averse to making waves.”

It’s really been bothering me that a corporation like Goodyear that reported profits of $602 million in 2007 (its most current annual SEC filing) most likely spent much more on attorneys’ fees than the $360K it could have paid Lilly, trying to convince us it didn’t practice gender discrimination. According to its 2007 annual report, Goodyear did, however, pay millions to settle other types of lawsuits. So I thought, wouldn’t it be refreshing if Goodyear would do the right thing and pay Lilly Ledbetter the back wages it should have paid her in the first place?

If we really want to honor Lilly and what she did for us and for our daughters (and our sons — they’ll benefit from this, as well), I say we should all call on Goodyear to pay Lilly what it should have paid her to begin with. You don’t even need an envelope or stamp. Here’s a link to the Goodyear site with the names and online form to contact Goodyear’s Global and Corporate Communications honchos.

Here’s a short letter you can feel free to use:

Dear Goodyear:

Now that President Obama has reversed the Supreme Court decision that denied Lilly Ledbetter her $360,000 in back pay, we call on you to do the right thing and pay Lilly what she should have been paid over the course of 20 years. While the new Ledbetter Law is not retroactive, think about all the public goodwill Goodyear would receive in these tough economic times if it stepped up and did the right thing by Lilly.

Sincerely yours,


I know it’s a long shot, but sometimes a little shame can go a long way. And given what Lilly did for us, I figured it’s the least we can try to do for her.

Be Sociable, Share!

Related Posts:

, , , , , ,

8 Responses to “Goodyear, You Can Spare $360K for Lilly Ledbetter”

  1. Madama Ambi Says:

    This is good. Yes, indeed. We owe Lily this. Thanks for taking the initiative.

  2. Jill Says:

    This is a great move, PunditMom! Can we get it going bigger – do you want to? Being in Ohio, maybe there’s some way to do more – Ohio Congresswoman Betty Sutton covers Akron I believe – maybe we could get her support somehow?? Email me if you think we should try – Sutton is in Sherrod Brown’s old seat OH-13 – and I bet we might be able to do something!

  3. anniegirl1138 Says:

    It’s a good idea and the right thing to do. If only we lived in a world where good ideas and doing the right thing mattered more than shareholders and CEO pay,

  4. Anonymous Says:

    I would also suggest that you copy the NFL and the major networks sports departments (which use the Goodyear blimp in their telecasts)as well as the US automakers. Since shame hasn’t worked, maybe threats to sales and their advertising strategy will.

  5. Jessica McFadden Says:

    Writing the letters now – thanks for the info and language PunditMom!

  6. Veronica Says:

    Done! Great idea, PunditMom! I hope they listen. Remember how people eased off the anti-Wal-Mart feeling (Ok, other people, not me) when they finally let that family keep their insurance money?

  7. Kelley Irish Says:

    Great IdeaI will write and send on to all my female friends.

  8. Emily in Greenville, SC Says:

    If you support Lilly Ledbetter (and I do), women should boycott Goodyear products until they make this right. The heck with the Goodyear Blimp. They should pay her now. Shame on them.

Leave a Reply