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Pay Equity Matters: Mind the Gap

A federal court in Maryland recently found that Baltimore City’s Enoch Pratt Free Library, the City’s public library system, violated federal pay equity law and is thus liable for more than $190,000 in backpay and liquidated damages. In United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Enoch Pratt Free Library, et al., the court concluded that the Library and two related defendants violated the Equal Pay Act (EPA) when it paid five female librarians less than a male librarian. The court’s December 23 decision found that the female librarians performed the same core duties as their male colleague, and rejected the defendants’ arguments that the library branches where the female librarians worked accounted for differences in duties sufficient to warrant paying the female employees less. The court further found that the Library failed to follow internal Human Resources guidance instructing city agencies to avoid “internal equity issues” when setting salaries for any new employees within a position’s salary range.  What can employers across the country learn from this case?

Continuing its recent string of settlements in the pay bias claims arena, the U.S. Department of Labor recently announced that Deloitte Services LP will pay $275,000 in back wages and interest to a group of 34 female technology services employees as part of a settlement of alleged wage discrimination. According to the Labor Department’s November 5 press release, the settlement also requires Deloitte to provide training to its managers overseeing compensation decisions in Tennessee and Georgia.

JPMorgan Chase recently signed a conciliation agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) agreeing to settle a long-running pay equity lawsuit alleging that it underpaid some of its female employees. Key provisions of the November 2 agreement require JPMorgan to pay $800,00 in back pay and interest to affected female employees, to conduct an annual pay equity analysis of its U.S. employees for the next five years, and to allocate $9,000,000 during the five-year period for pay adjustments for women and minorities to address pay equity.

The EEOC recently sued Dell, Inc. for alleged violations of the Equal Pay Act (EPA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, both of which prohibit discrimination in compensation on the basis of sex. According to the EEOC’s Complaint, Dell retained an IT analyst from a company it acquired, but paid her less than a male counterpart performing work requiring substantially the same skill, effort and responsibility. This case serves as a reminder to employers to be vigilant about pay equity when retaining new employees as part of a corporate acquisition or otherwise.

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