Casting Call: Lilly Ledbetter

Published March 1, 2013

In which we suggest who should star in the next big adaptation, remake, or historical film.

In the last presidential campaign’s debates, one question raised was the candidates’ commitment to gender equality in the workplace. Mitt Romney’s reply involved the unfortunate, infamous phrase, “binders full of women.” President Obama referenced the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, one of the first pieces legislation passed in his presidency.

An employee of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in Alabama for 19 years, just before her retirement, Lilly Ledbetter received an anonymous note comparing her salary to those of her male peers at the company. Ledbetter’s male colleagues made 14 to 40% more than her per month.

Ledbetter took her case to court—and then to the Supreme Court, which denied her compensation because she did not complain about the discrimination she faced within 180 days of her last Goodyear paycheck. The vote was close—five to four—and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg spoke out about the decision.

Now an equal rights activist, Ledbetter met Obama before he became president. In 2009, the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act amended the 180-day time limit to suing for discrimination. It didn’t change things for Ledbetter, but does for everyone else. If your first reaction is, “Oscar-winning biopic material!” you’ve probably spent too much time in Hollywood —but you’re not the only one. A biopic is in the works, and Ledbetter personally chose Rachel Feldman to direct it

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