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Female Law Partner’s Gender Bias Suit Against Her Current Employer Raises Concerns of Pay Equality

Katherine Neff

Kerrie L. Campbell filed suit against her current employer, the law firm Chadbourne & Parke, alleging that she was shut out of leadership positions and paid far less than male partners at her level. According to Ms. Campbell, Chadbourne’s management committee, which determines the compensation for the firm’s partners, is made up of five men, who award male partners more points, which translate into higher dollar compensation, than they do to women. After complaining to the managing partner of pay inequaility, Ms. Campbell alleges that she was told her employment would end at the end of August and her pay was substantially reduced to that of an entry-level associate.
Other women have filed similar suits against their large law firm employers. Last month, Traci M. Ribeiro sued her firm Sedgwick, a large San Francisco based law firm, alleging that the “male-dominated culture” resulted in female lawyers being denied equal pay and equal promotions. Similarly, Kamee Verdrager’s case against her former employer Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsly and Popeo of Boston, is set for trial on her gender discrimination claims. Ms. Verdrager contends that the firm reduced her seniority by two years — which affected her level of pay — then later fired her.
In 2014, Sky Analytics, who provides spend management software to corporate legal departments, released its first ever gender study using actual billing records from law firms. The study, along with a National Association of Women Lawyers study on gender biases in the legal profession, highlighted the pay disparity between men and women. We blogged about these studies in 2014.
Hopefully the publicity surrounding these lawsuits, along with the 2014 studies on gender biases in the legal profession, will empower other women to continue coming forward and motivate law firms to cease their unequal billing practices.
Female Lawyer’s Gender-Bias Suit Challenges Law Firm Pay Practices by Elizabeth Olsonaug of The New York Times. Published August 31, 2016.

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U.S. Women’s Soccer Stars Fight For Equal Pay

Katherine Neff

On March 31, 2016, five players from the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accusing the U.S. Soccer Federation of paying them less than their male counterparts in violation of the Equal Pay Act.

Carli Lloyd, Hope Solo, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrunn, who are all members of the World Cup championship team, have unsuccessfully tried to negotiate for higher wages through their union. The fact that these players have a collective bargaining agreement, and subsequent memorandum of understanding may have an impact on their Equal Pay Act claims.

The pay disparity between the men’s and women’s teams is astounding. For example, each year, the U.S. men’s and women’s national teams are required to play a minimum of 20 friendly matches. The top five players from the men’s team receive $406,000 in compensation on average per year for these games, compared to the top five women who receive only $72,000. For a World Cup victory, a male U.S. soccer player could earn $390,000, while Lloyd, for example, only earned $75,000 for last year’s World Cup victory. Further, men on the U.S. team earn $69,000 for making the Word Cup roster, while the women only receive $15,000.

Although the men’s World Cup generates more money globally than the women’s event, the U.S. Soccer Federation has forecasted that the men’s U.S. Soccer team will lose approximately $1 million in 2017, while the women’s team will generate a profit of $5.2 million.

We will have to see whether the collective bargaining agreement and/or memorandum of understanding (in which the union agreed to this compensation) will impact the claims alleged by the five players, or if the U.S. Soccer Federation will come to an agreement with the players before either the EEOC or a court weighs in. For more information, read these articles from Forbes, The New York Times and NPR.

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Even In A Female-Dominated Industry, Men Earn More

Katherine Neff

Although female nurses outnumber male nurses 10 to 1, males still earn more than females, according to a study published Tuesday in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association.  In 2011, males made up approximately nine percent of registered nurses, according to the Census Bureau.  Despite males not being permitted to nursing programs at some schools until the 1980s, they have earned more overall.  The largest pay disparity was for nurse anesthetists, with men earning $17,290 more than women.  Male senior administrators also earned nearly $7,000 more than females on average.  And in the ambulatory work setting, males earn over $7,600 more than women.

Although the study did not reveal the reasons for the pay disparity, some have suggested that “men have better negotiating skills.”  Others believe the disparity could relate to women, as more senior nurses, choosing better shifts at lower pay.  However, many believe gender discrimination could still be a cause.  Whatever the cause, this study certainly reveals that continued efforts toward pay equality are needed in every job sector, even those dominated by women.

Read more in this blog.

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Where you live makes a difference.

Katherine Neff

Each state has its own laws impacting workers’ rights.  In the Tri-state, Ohio and Kentucky allow employees to pursue state law discrimination claims in court in front of a jury, while Indiana employees must pursue their state law discrimination claims through the civil and human rights commissions created by statute and are not afforded a jury trial.  However, most employees may still pursue discrimination claims in federal court under the federal anti-discrimination statutes.  Because federal laws do not exist to protect workers who suffer workplace injuries, these workers’ rights will vary based on where they live.

Employees who suffer workplace injuries cannot pursue claims against their employers outside of workers’ compensation benefit programs.  Because Congress permits each state to determine its own workers’ compensation benefits, with no federal minimums, workers who live across state lines can experience vastly different outcomes for the same injury.  For example, in the Tri-state, a worker who loses an arm in Kentucky may recover $402,277 in benefits, but workers in Indiana and Ohio can recover only $202,050 and $193,950 respectively.  Although these states are above the national average, many states are outrageously low.  Benefits in Alabama, for example, max out at just $48,840.

States use a “schedule of benefits,” to determine how much a worker can recover following a work-place injury.  More often than not, these “schedules” are based on political bargains struck decades ago, instead of on medical wisdom and economic analysis.

ProPublica and NPR found that employers are paying the lowest rates for workers’ compensation benefits than at any time since the 1970s, yet, states continue to reduce benefits, often citing the need to compete with neighboring states and be more attractive to business.  As a result, taxpayers (through programs like Social Security and Medicaid) and the injured workers are forced to subsidize the lost income and medical costs.

Read more in this article.

 

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The 100th Woman in Congress

Katherine Neff

On Wednesday, November 12, 2014, Alma Adams became the 100th woman to serve in Congress.  While this is an important milestone for women, it took nearly 100 years, since 1917, to accomplish it.  And, although women make up approximately 50 percent of the population, women make up less than 20 percent of the members in Congress.
Of the 100 women in Congress, 32 are women of color, a record, including 18 African Americans, nine Latinas, and five Asian American-Pacific Islanders.
After this month’s election, between one and five women could be joining Representative Adams (four races with female candidates are still undecided).
For more information about these milestones, check out USA Today’s On Politics article by Catalina Camia.

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