Crawling Across Broken Glass: How One Woman Fought Gender Discrimination, Beat the Odds and Won by Lisa Shipley, is a compelling account of what happened when Lisa, a highly successful executive working for a global, publically-traded company, sued her former employer and its CEO for gender discrimination.
Her inspiring story is full of twists and turns worthy of a John Grisham legal thriller. It also clearly illustrates that more than 50 years after the federal Equal Pay Act was passed, women continue to be discriminated against in the workplace and that while getting justice is possible, it is a very difficult challenge.
Lisa loved her job as Senior Vice President of North American Sales at Hypercom. The highest-ranking female employee in the company and the only female executive at Hypercom among a group of 5 global Senior Vice Presidents, Lisa was the firm’s top performer, enjoyed the respect of her peers and had always been treated fairly by her employer. The firm even nominated Lisa for a prestigious national award that resulted in her being named a “Mover and Shaker” by the industry trade publication, Transaction World Magazine. But Lisa’s life changed dramatically when Hypercom hired a new CEO who proceeded to belittle her in front of her peers, deliberately exclude her from meetings and events that were crucial to her job performance, snubbed her, and even denied her the compensation she had earned.
Pushed to her limits, Lisa eventually resigned from her job, took a new position with a competitor company, and looked forward to moving on with her life. However, when Hypercom refused to send her a final check for the base pay and commissions it still owed her, Lisa decided to sue the company and its CEO for gender discrimination. It took more than 4 years for her case to go to trial because of Hypercom’s efforts to drag things out hoping that its maneuvers would cause Lisa to drop her lawsuit or settle for a fraction of what she had sued for. For example, 20 months into the process, Hypercom and its CEO sued Lisa in an effort to ruin her financially and force her into bankruptcy. Yet, despite all of the costs she incurred and the emotional ups and downs she experienced, Lisa did not back down. And when she finally had her day in court (5 days actually), a jury awarded Lisa a nearly $1.5 million judgment against the defendants.