. . . whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends [e.g., Life, Liberty, the Pursuit of Happiness], it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it. . .The Declaration of Independence
Lilly Ledbetter was the keynote speaker at this year’s Women’s and Gender Studies Conference. What shone through the harrowing description of her nine year battle were her resilience, her grit, her determination, and her courage. She could have left the situation unaddressed and gone on with her life. But that would have been insufficient.
She needed to do what was right both for herself and for her family. Like many trailblazers, her actions benefitted generations to come.
Pay inequity falls under the larger rubric of employer abuse, of which bullying is a part. A media commentator made an interesting remark regarding a rogue country: namely, that it emerges from a position of utter weakness, and as a result must exaggerate its strength. This is the trademark of bosses who bully.
Those affected keep silent for the same reasons that Ledbetter outlined: potential retaliation, and the lethargy of a management structure which supports those in power. Workers fear employer pressure, losing their jobs, and the possibility that they will be labeled a troublemaker (and subsequently blackballed). In the case of verbal, psychological, and emotional abuse, it takes one strong individual to take on the machine – and to challenge a behemoth which has the resources, time, and reputation to bury them.
The unfortunate result of non-action is that targets suffer in silence, smattered with the entrails of PTSD, OCD, OCPD, anxiety, and depression. The bully runs free in firms that tacitly condone its behavior. The watershed moment comes when one lone person decides to tell their story in a public forum, opening their lives (and that of their loved ones) to media scrutiny and the inevitable fallout. This is a chance to stop bullies in their tracks, and to pass legislation that will prevent them from picking on those they perceive as powerless.