Unequal Pay Costly for Bank: $30K Judgment

Case-by-case, the rights of women to equal pay for equal work are being vindicated.

A Nebraska bank will pay $30,598 to a woman whom it unlawfully paid less than a man, pursuant to a federal court judgment in a pay discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced Tuesday. The EEOC had charged Wood River, Neb.-based Heritage Bank with paying a female employee lower wages because of her sex. The judgment and order also require Heritage Bank to implement policy and procedural changes to prevent future discrimination.

Christine Schwieger started working for Heritage Bank in 2010. From 2010 to 2013, Heritage Bank paid Schwieger and another woman, in the same insurance sales position, the same base salary, $30,000. In 2014, when the other woman quit and was replaced by a man, Heritage Bank paid him $40,000. Despite Schwieger’s complaint about the pay inequity, Heritage Bank did nothing, the EEOC charged.

Such alleged conduct violates the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA), which prohibits companies from paying women less than men for a job requiring the same skill, effort, and responsibility, performed under similar working conditions. The EEOC filed suit in June (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Heritage Bank, Civil Action No. 4:17-cv-03068) in U.S. District Court for the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska.

The judgment and order from U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael D. Nelson awards Schwieger $30,598. It also requires Heritage Bank to implement policies to prevent future EPA violations, requires annual anti-discrimination training, and mandates semi-annual reporting to the EEOC.

“Although the Equal Pay Act is now over 50 years old, we know that women are not always paid the same as men for doing equal work,” said EEOC St. Louis District Director James R. Neely, Jr. “Employers need to know that equal pay is not only the law, it is also a top priority for the EEOC.”

Andrea G. Baran, the EEOC’s regional attorney in St. Louis, added, “As this case against Heritage Bank demonstrates, the EEOC will thoroughly investigate and enforce this robust and important federal law. We encourage employees who believe that they are paid less than members of the opposite sex for equal work to do as Ms. Schwieger did and file a complaint with the EEOC.”

Compensation discrimination is one of six national enforcement priorities highlighted in the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan, accessible at https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/plan/sep-2017.cfm.

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