Grace and Grit
by Lilly Ledbetter with Lanier Scott Isom
Ledbetter is widely known as the “face of pay equity” because of her discrimination lawsuit against Goodyear and the resulting legislation that bears her name. After suing Goodyear, Ledbetter was awarded back pay and other remedies in a jury trial; however, in 2007 the U.S. Supreme Court overturned that ruling in a 5-4 decision.
In direct response to the court’s problematic ruling, President Barack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law in 2009, restoring the long-standing interpretation of civil rights laws and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission policies that allows employees to challenge any discriminatory paycheck they receive.
The above information is what one reads in the media. The story is still evolving as fair pay is still not a reality in 2013. I have met Lilly in person, heard her speak, and followed the progress of the litigation. But none of it prepared me for the sadness and outrage I felt when I read Grace and Grit. Lilly tells her story about not only her livelihood, but her life being threatened. And the discrimination she describes–lies, sabotage, dirty tricks– took place shift after shift, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year.
The reader enjoys getting to know Lilly in her growing-up years, and learns of the complicated relationship between Lilly and her mother, and the family structure and expectations that taught her the values she continues to hold today. The support her husband gave her, even in his failing health, was a joy to read amidst such awful challenges.
Her tenacious hold on her work ethic, and the pride she had in a job well done, sometimes worked against her. I found myself cheering her on and amazed at her tenacity. Lilly is an incredible role model and heroine. You will enjoy her story.