Posts Tagged ‘Equal Pay Act’

Bad Dough: Pizza Parlor Withdrew Job Offer After Women Complained About Wage, EEOC Alleges

It was a two-fer violation, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The employer offered to female applicants less pay as a man already in the job and then withdrew its job offer when they complained of the pay discrepancy.

A Delaware company that until recently operated a Pizza Studio restaurant in Kansas City, Kan., and still owns other restaurants nationwide, violated federal law by withdrawing job offers from two teens after the woman complained about being offered less pay than her male friend, the EEOC charged in a lawsuit filed on Sept. 5.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, two high school friends, Jenson Walcott and Jake Reed, applied to work at Pizza Studio as “pizza artists” in 2016. After both were interviewed and offered jobs, Walcott and Reed discussed their starting wages. Upon learning that Reed was offered 25¢ more per hour, Walcott called the restaurant to complain about the unequal pay. When she did so, the company immediately withdrew its offers of employment from both Walcott and Reed.

Such alleged conduct violates the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which prohibits companies from paying women and men unequally and retaliating against those who complain about or support a claim of unequal pay.

The EEOC filed its lawsuit (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. PS Holding LLC (Pizza Studio), Civil Action No. 2:17-cv-02513 in U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas. The EEOC seeks monetary relief as well as a judgment and order requiring the company to implement policies and practices to prevent future discrimination.

“The federal law requiring equal pay for jobs requiring the same skill, effort, and responsibility is older than the law which protects employees from discrimination based on race, religion, color, sex, and national origin,” said James R. Neely, Jr., director of EEOC’s St. Louis District Office. “Women must absolutely be paid the same as men for equal work.”

Andrea G. Baran, the EEOC’s regional attorney in St. Louis, said, “Perhaps even worse than offering unequal pay is firing employees when they make a good-faith inquiry regarding the possibility of unfair compensation. Employees need to know that the law protects co-workers who talk about their pay and those who complain if they believe the employer is not paying men and woman equally.”


EEOC: Texas County Violated Equal Pay Act

In the absence of tougher legislation at the federal level, the work of securing equal pay for women grinds on in the courts. Here’s the latest case in that effort.

Denton County, Texas violated the Equal Pay Act by paying lesser wages to a female clinician than it paid to a male physician performing the same job, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed on August 31.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Dr. Martha C. Storrie worked as primary care clinician in the Denton County Health Department beginning in October 2008. The job duties of the primary care clinician were primarily to provide medical treatment and healthcare for Denton County residents in clinics run by the county, including a clinic in the Denton County jail. According to the EEOC, in August 2015, Denton County hired a male physician to perform the same duties and responsibilities as other staff working as a primary care clinician.

However, when the newly hired clinician was brought onboard as a colleague of Dr. Storrie’s, the county set his starting annual salary at more than $34,000 higher than his experienced female counterpart. The EEOC maintains that during her employment with Denton County, other male physicians in the position of primary care clinician and performing the same duties were also paid higher wages than Dr. Storrie.

Such alleged conduct violates the Equal Pay Act (EPA), which prohibits discrimination in compensation based on sex. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Sherman Division (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Denton County, Civil Action No. 4:17-CV-00614-ALM after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks back pay to remedy the pay disparity.

The EEOC is also seeking liquidated (double) damages for alleged willfulness on the part of the county, when management refused to correct the matter even after the female physician brought it to their attention. The civil rights agency is also asking for injunctive relief to promote non-discriminatory pay practices in the future.

“Energetically enforcing equal pay laws is a currently one the national strategic priorities for the EEOC,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Robert A. Canino. “In the health care field, just as in any other job market, the best medicine for employers ailing from poor pay practices is to remedy gender-based pay disparities that have been premised on outdated sex stereotypes. With over 1,000 EPA charges received in 2016, we have our work cut out for us in promoting equal economic opportunity in the workplace.”

EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Suzanne Anderson added, “Denton County failed to properly pay Dr. Storrie for her important work in providing medical care in the county clinics and the jail. The county’s approach to salaries resulted in a wage gap between Dr. Storrie and the male physicians that persisted throughout her long career with the county. The EEOC will continue to enforce compliance with the EPA to ensure that employees are paid equally when they perform equal work.”


EEOC Takes Estee Lauder to Court Over Paid Parental Leave More Generous to Its Women

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has targeted another employer over a parental leave policy more generous to one gender than the other.

Estée Lauder Companies, Inc., one of the world’s leading manufacturers and marketers of skin care, makeup, fragrance and hair care products, violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Pay Act when it implemented and administered a paid parental leave program that automatically provides male employees who are new fathers lesser parental leave benefits than are provided to female employees who are new mothers, the  EEOC alleged in a lawsuit it announced today.

According to the suit, in 2013 Estée Lauder adopted a new parental leave program to provide employees with paid leave for purposes of bonding with a new child, as well as flexible return-to-work benefits when the child bonding leave expired. Under its parental leave program, in addition to paid leave already provided to new mothers to recover from childbirth, Estée Lauder also provides eligible new mothers an additional six weeks of paid parental leave for child bonding.  Estée Lauder only offers new fathers whose partners have given birth two weeks of paid leave for child bonding.  The suit also alleges that new mothers are provided with flexible return-to-work benefits upon expiration of child bonding leave that are not similarly provided to new fathers.

The case arose when a male employee working as a stock person in an Estée Lauder store in Maryland sought parental leave benefits after his child was born.  He requested, and was denied, the six weeks of child-bonding leave that biological mothers automatically receive, and was allowed only two weeks of leave to bond with his newborn child.  Such conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) and the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which prohibit discrimination in pay or benefits based on sex.  The suit seeks relief for the affected employee, and other male employees who were denied equal parental leave benefits because of their sex.

The EEOC’s Washington Field Office investigated the charge of discrimination that led to this suit. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Estée Lauder Companies, Inc., Civil Action No. —) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. As part of the suit, the EEOC is seeking back pay and compensatory and punitive damages on behalf of the aggrieved class members, as well as injunctive relief.

“It is wonderful when employers provide paid parental leave and flexible work arrangements, but federal law requires equal pay, including benefits, for equal work, and that applies to men as well as women,” said EEOC Washington Field Office Acting Director Mindy Weinstein.

EEOC Philadelphia District Office Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, “Addressing sex-based pay discrimination, including in benefits such as paid leave, is a priority issue for the Commission.”

$145K Settlement in EEOC’s Equal Pay Suit Against Suburban Washington, D.C. Suburb

Equal pay for equal work is the law of the land but the battle for equal pay frequently plays out case-by-case in the courts.

The latest example: an expensive settlement of an equal pay suit reached yesterday between the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Prince George’s County, Md., a suburb of the nation’s capital.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Joanna Smith had a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering and more than five years of engineering experience when she was hired for an Engineer III position with Prince George’s County’s Department of Environment (DOE). The EEOC said the county rebuffed Smith’s efforts to negotiate a higher starting salary matching her experience and education, but just two weeks later, hired a male for a comparable Engineer III position and paid him the higher salary he requested, even though they were performing substantially equal work.

Prince George’s County also promoted and paid a male Engineer III a higher salary than Smith, and paid another male Engineer II higher wages than Smith, even though he had less experience and performed less complex duties, the EEOC charged. Smith continues to work as an Engineer IV within the county’s DOE.

On March 21, after an earlier hearing on the EEOC’s and Prince George’s County’s summary judgment motions, U.S. District Court Judge Roger W. Titus ruled in favor of the EEOC, finding that the county paid Smith lower wages than it paid to male colleagues performing equal work, in violation of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA).

In addition to the $139,633 in lost wages and liquidated damages to Smith, and $5,769 in costs to the EEOC, the three-year consent decree resolving the suit enjoins Prince George’s County from engaging in sex-based wage discrimination in the future. The county will increase Smith’s salary by $24,723 to ensure parity with her male comparators. The county will also hire a consultant, who will ensure that the DOE’s compensation policies and procedures, and individual salary determinations, comply with the EPA. The consultant will provide training on federal anti-discrimination laws to the county’s position review board members and all managers and supervisors within the DOE. Prince George’s County will also report to the EEOC on how it handles any complaints of sex-based wage discrimination and post a notice regarding the settlement.

“We filed this lawsuit because Prince George’s County not only refused Ms. Smith’s efforts to negotiate a higher salary commensurate with her experience and education, it then continually paid her less than it paid her male colleagues even though she did equal, and in some cases, more complex and superior work,” said EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Maria Salacuse. “The court’s ruling confirmed that the county’s rationale for the disparity was unsupported by the record.”

EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, “Unfortunately, the wage gap between male and female workers continues to exist in all industries. The EEOC will take vigorous action against any employers, whether public or private, who engage in such blatant pay discrimination.”

EEOC Philadelphia District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr. noted, “Fairness and federal law mandate equal pay for equal work.”

EEOC Nabs $50K for Underpaid Custodian in Settlement of Lawsuit Against School District

A school district in Minnesota decided it was better to capitulate than fight a lawsuit alleging it paid a female custodian less than a male custodian though they both performed equivalent duties.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which filed the lawsuit against the Montevideo School District, the school district agreed to pay $50,000 to resolve the Equal Pay Act lawsuit.

The EEOC found that Montevideo School District failed to pay a female custodial aid wages equal to that of a custodian, a position which was held by her male coworker, even though the two performed job duties that were the same as or equivalent in skill, effort and responsibility. The custodial aid position is an hourly position and pays almost less than half of the salaried custodian position.

Following the investigation, EEOC determined that there was reasonable cause to believe that the school district was violating the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Read more here about the lawsuit and the terms of the settlement

Woman Collects $45K in Wage Discrimination Settlement Against Logistics Provider Company

On the campaign trail–particularly on the Democratic Party side–equal pay for equal work is a daily mantra.

But in the real world of slow-moving governance, achieving equal pay is happening case by case.

The latest case is one the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed against NFI RoadRail, LLC and NFI Industries, Inc., New Jersey-based businesses that provide logistics, transportation and warehouse services to manufacturers and retailers. According to the EEOC,  NFI paid a female director of intermodal operations in its Irving, Texas location less than three male directors. When her male counterparts were fired, she was put back into the job but paid a lower annual salary. The woman learned she was being paid less when she came across a pay stub of the male who had vacated the job she was moving into.

The underpaid female director will receive $45,000 in a settlement of this Title VII and Equal Pay Act lawsuit, the EEOC announced today.

Here’s the announcement with more background on the lawsuit and the terms of the settlement.

Wyoming Company Charged in Equal Pay Suit

Female accounting clerks in 12 states were illegally underpaid in comparison to their male counterpart for doing substantially similar work in similar working conditions, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charged yesterday in a lawsuit against True Oil, LLC, a company headquartered in Casper, Wyoming.

The commission filed the Equal Pay Act lawsuit against True Oil and 9 associated companies, though the commission’s announcement didn’t specify which states the companies operate in.

“Enforcing the Equal Pay Act and closing the pay gap is a priority for the EEOC,” said EEOC Phoenix District Office regional attorney Mary Jo O’Neill.  “By enforcing the EPA, the EEOC ensures that women will be paid an equal and fair wage.  Unfortunately, Wyoming has the largest pay disparity between men and women in the country according to a 2014 report by the American Association of University Women.”

Read more about the lawsuit.