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Goodyear seeks court costs from Alabama retiree in suit

WASHINGTON (AP) — Lilly Ledbetter, now a retiree from an Alabama plant, won nearly $4 million in her pay discrimination lawsuit against Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. before the decision was reversed on appeal.

Now, Goodyear's attorneys have sent the former Gadsden plant supervisor a bill for almost $3,200 for logistical expenses related to the lawsuit.

Ledbetter, 69, said she doesn't have the money to pay it and is astonished that Goodyear would ask.

"I am very disappointed and very upset that the corporation that I worked for and gave so much to would do this when all I asked was to be treated fair and equal to my peers," she said in a phone interview from her home in Jacksonville. "With all their profits ... they're doing well, and I'm struggling to survive on my retirement and my Social Security."

An attorney for Goodyear referred questions to the company's public relations department, which did not immediately respond Tuesday.

Ledbetter's case has drawn national attention, reaching the Supreme Court earlier this year and later inspiring legislation in Congress. As she spoke Tuesday, she was watching C-SPAN as the House passed legislation named after her that would give workers more rights in filing pay discrimination claims.

Goodyear's bill, dated July 10 and sent to Ledbetter attorney Jon Goldfarb, is for $3,165.20.

Goldfarb said such court costs are common in civil cases, where the losing side is typically responsible for expenses such as copying fees or the costs of a court reporter in a deposition.

But, he said, "she thought after all this that Goodyear would maybe forget about this."

Ledbetter, whose husband has cancer and is undergoing surgery this week, said she didn't know how she would come up with the money. She said an advocacy group has contacted her about helping pay the fees. But she said she might go back to work if necessary.

A nearly 20-year employee at Goodyear's plant in Gadsden, Ledbetter accused the company of sex discrimination shortly before she retired in 1998, saying she was making about $6,500 less than the lowest-paid male in the same position.

Ledbetter has said she didn't sue earlier because she wasn't certain that her peers were earning that much more and she didn't want to be seen as a complainer in a male-dominated workplace.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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