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Jon Goldfarb, SOC/MA '90

Jon Goldfarb ’90 and Lilly Ledbetter (Photo: Hare Communications)

When Lilly Ledbetter walked into Jon Goldfarb’s office 10 years ago, he had no idea that her name would become synonymous with the 2009 Fair Pay Act signed by President Barack Obama just one week into his presidency.    

Lilly M. Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, Inc. was the most publicized case of his career, Goldfarb says, “one that caused the law to change.” The act gives women the ability to challenge unequal pay in the workplace. According to the
National Women’s Law Center, women still earn, on average, only 78 cents for every dollar earned by men.   

An attorney with the Birmingham firm of Wiggins, Childs, Quinn, and Pantazis, Goldfarb specializes in employment discrimination cases that may involve pay, gender, or race.   

“People need to stand up for their rights in the workplace,” he says. “The laws are in place, and people need to take advantage of those laws. Or things won’t change.”   

He says it’s unfortunate that employers comply with the laws only as a result of costly litigation. In fact, Goldfarb explains, employers don’t save money by maintaining discriminatory practices and preventing the most competent people—who may be women or minorities—from moving into higher positions.    

“It’s cheaper not to discriminate,” Goldfarb advises.   

A consummate attorney by day, he is also passionate about film. After earning his JD from Emory University, Goldfarb enrolled in AU’s film program, and was, for a time, a filmmaker for the federal government.   

When he was back home in Birmingham working on a film for the Veterans Administration, Goldfarb ran across his boss from his law-clerking days and accepted a short-term legal assignment. Seventeen years later, he is still with that firm. Goldfarb keeps the flames of his film passion alive by serving on the board of directors for the Alabama Moving Image Association, which sponsors Birmingham’s annual Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival.   

Reflecting on his professional choice, Goldfarb notes that he realized he “enjoys helping people.”   

Circling back, Lilly Ledbetter is working on a book chronicling her battle and victory, in which Goldfarb plays a starring role. There is talk of a feature film—a picture perfect ending for this lawyer with a cinematic past.