Goodyears’s Gender Discrimination

Goodyears’s Gender Discrimination

PHI445: Personal & Organizational Ethics

Goodyear’s Gender Discrimination


In the case of Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. the moral problem began when Goodyear Tire knowingly paid Lilly Ledbetter the least amount in salary as a supervisor based on her gender. Despite Lilly’s high-level seniority, great performance reviews, and the second-highest score on the competency exam, her salary was still 40 percent lower than that of the lowest-paid male supervisor. Also, Lilly Ledbetter was involuntarily transferred to a less-desirable job on the production floor, forcing her to take early retirement. She was one of the only female area manager at the Goodyear Tire and Rubber’s in Gadsen, Alabama, and was with the company for nearly twenty years. This discrimination was possible and motivated by the freedom businesses have in a capitalistic economy. The features of capitalism are personal self-interest, not community interest, to stimulate business activity. (Fieser, 2015). She then filed a wage discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), based on discrimination under Title VII and the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA). They awarded her punitive damages, but the case was overturned in appeals, claiming she had not filed her grievances with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) early enough. She lost the claim on the bases that her claim had been time-barred, and she did not bring her claims to the EEOC within the 180 days before the date she filed her charge. (Brake & Grossman, 2007). 

Thesis and Ethical Theory  

           In this assignment, I will defend the view that discrimination of gender inequality in the workplace is morally indefensible. Within the last fifty years, discrimination has been a long battle to combat. Throughout early history, we have seen discrimination violate a person’s human rights. It is with laws like The Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII, which is set in place to protect consumers and hold businesses accountable for their actions. The ethical theory that best represents this issue is Immanuel Kant’s deontology theory. Kant’s theory says, “Duty is the position that moral standards are grounded in instinctive rational obligations—or duties—that we have.” (Fieser, 2015, sect. 1.3). Goodyear had the moral duty to their employees to follow Title VII laws and avoid discrimination. Consequently, Kant’s theory, “Treat people as an end, and never merely as a means to an end.” (Fieser, 2015, sect. 1.3) can be applied when Goodyear neglected to do what was right and in turn, created gender-biased in the workplace. 


The first reason in support of my thesis comes after the failed court case of Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, was later created to protect against discrimination of gender inequality. With the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, future gender discrimination cases brought up in court would have a better chance at success. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (n.d) states, “this law overturned the Supreme Court’s decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Inc., 550 U.S. 618 (2007), which severely restricted the time period for filing complaints of employment discrimination concerning compensation.” This act states that with each paycheck that contains discriminatory compensation will be considered a new and completely different violation regardless of the discrimination start date. This change is essential for victims who may not have known they were being discriminated against until it was too late; such is the case with Lilly Ledbetter, who realized it too late or, as stated in court, “time-barred.”

The second reason in support of my thesis is that gender-based discrimination has been an ongoing issue for generations. However, it was not until Congress passed, on June 4, 1919, and ratified on August 18, 1920, the 19th amendment granting women the right to vote, thus, creating future laws to prevent additional discrimination. Even with all the laws and changes throughout the years, other gender discrimination cases have surfaced. In the case of Wal-Mart v. Dukes, a Supreme Court case brought to court by On June 20, 2011, by female employees of Walmart claiming that “ local managers exercise their discretion over pay and promotions disproportionately in favor of men, which has an unlawful disparate impact on female employees.” (Wal-Mart v. Dukes, 564 U.S. 338, 2011). The Supreme Court ruled in Walmart’s favor by saying the plaintiffs did not have enough in common to constitute a class, and the class-action lawsuit was dropped. Another gender discrimination case is the Cahill v. Nike, Inc. lawsuit. On August 9, 2018, a class-action trial was raised by previous Nike, Inc. employees, Kelly Cahill, and Sara Johnston, and later joined by Lindsay Elizabeth and Heather Hender. This group brought a lawsuit against Nike, Inc. stating that Nike had violated the Equal Pay Act by engaging in gender pay discrimination. These cases are only two of many others, some won and some lost. 

Comparative analysis

           As previously stated, it is when we apply the ethical theory of Immanuel Kant’s deontology theory rather than the theory of Virtue Ethics that private companies will have the incentive to obey laws to reduce discrimination. “Duty is the position that moral standards are grounded in instinctive rational obligations—or duties—that we have.” (Fieser, 2015, sect. 1.3). All companies have the moral duty to their employees to follow laws such as Title VII and avoid discrimination. Also, the Golden Rule, which states, “I should do to others what I would want them to do to me” (Fieser, 2015) would hold companies responsible for their actions and provide a solution to discrimination of gender. Other ethical theories like Virtue Ethics is “the view that morality is grounded in the virtuous character traits that people acquire” (Fieser, 2015, sect. 1.3). Two characteristics of this are 1 — Vice of excess, ie. Overindulgence addicted to pleasurable activities. (Fieser, 2015, sect. 1.3). 2. Virtue of temperance, enjoying a range of pleasures in moderate amounts. (Fieser, 2015, sect. 1.3). This theory would not prevent companies from their desires for wealth, power, and fame. Due to not being any consequences of the theory, it would only create more discrimination against people of spectrums. 

Thesis Objection

           Some may object to my thesis stating gender roles play a part, and are the cause of unintentional discrimination of gender inequality. These gender roles that are contributing to the oppression of women consist of many variables. One is sexism, “A man’s job is to earn money; a woman’s job is to look after the home and family” (Verniers & Vala, 2018). Another variable is previous occupations, “Because women have disproportionately worked in occupations with relatively low wages (e.g., teachers, nurses, secretaries, retail sales clerks) and men have disproportionately worked in occupations with comparatively high wages (e.g., executives, managers, doctors, lawyers, engineers, scientists), the average and median earnings of women in general has been much lower than the average and median earnings of men in general.” (U.S. Department of Labor Employment Standards Administration, 2009). An additional objection to my thesis is career interruptions for females. It is stated that women leave careers or end their education by taking more leave for reasons such as giving birth, or to raise children and is “associated with reduced income and that such interruptions are much more prevalent among mothers than among fathers.” (Dey & Hill, 2007).


           While gender roles play a part in discrimination of gender inequality, it does not justify it. It understood that gender roles were different such as it was in the 1920’s where women typically stayed at home to care for the house and children. (Pechar, 2017). Those gender roles today have significantly changed, and it is now more common to have a woman holding positions such as doctors, CEO’s, surgeons, and many other successful roles, but still, discrimination of gender inequality in the workplace exists. Women are much more involved than previously mentioned, “Women and men were believed to be more equally engaged in financial roles in 2014 than in 1982.” (Sage, 2016). Gender roles no longer play a role in the pay gap between woman and men, “One such study, by Professor June O’Neill of the City University of New York, shows that the adjusted wage ratio between men and women in 2000 increased from 78.2 percent to 97.5 percent when appropriate explanatory variables were included in calculations.” (Furchtgott-Roth, 2010). Though cases of discrimination of gender inequality always arise. 

Closing remarks

           In conclusion, I have mentioned that discrimination of gender inequality has been a long fighting battle, and there is nothing to defend the justification of this type of discrimination. The strides that have been taken to further inequality in the workplace for females have far exceeded expectations. Though there has been much success to close that gap, discrimination still follows. It is a battle that will thrive and succeed as long as the fight does not end. 


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