Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company recently sent Lilly Ledbetter a bill for $3,165.20.
It wasn't because Ledbetter bought new tires for everyone in her neighborhood.
Ledbetter, who worked at a Goodyear facility in Alabama for 19 years, was the plaintiff in a pay discrimination lawsuit against the company. Ledbetter alleged - and a jury agreed - that Goodyear had paid her less than what her male counterparts were receiving, even though she had more experience than many of the men and had received positive performance evaluations.
But the five right-wing ideologues on the U.S. Supreme Court saw it differently. They sided with Goodyear in a sharply divided 5-4 decision. Now Goodyear wants $3,165.20 to cover court costs. A jury found that Goodyear spent nearly two decades shortchanging a good worker because she happened to be a woman, and now the company is hassling her for court costs.
What makes this so outrageous is why the Supreme Court sided with Goodyear - it wasn't because the court disputed the jury's finding that Ledbetter was the victim of pay discrimination. Rather, the court ruled that Ledbetter had waited too long to sue for pay discrimination, despite the fact that she filed a charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as soon as she received an anonymous note alerting her to pay discrimination.
While Ledbetter filed her charge within 180 days of receiving discriminatory pay, the court ruled that, since Ledbetter did not raise a claim within 180 days of the employer's decision to pay her less, she could not receive any relief.
The court said that, 181 days after a discriminatory pay decision, an employer can continue to pay an employee less because of the employee's race, sex, or religion - without any legal consequences.
Today, the House of Representatives voted to rectify the Supreme Court's flawed ruling. We can't keep Goodyear from forcing Lilly Ledbetter to pay the $3,165.20. But in Ledbetter's name, we must provide some measure of justice for workers who face discrimination in the future.