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Equal Pay Progress

Katherine Neff

On Equal Pay Day let’s celebrate the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ April 9, 2018 decision reaffirming the principle behind the Equal Pay Act and rejecting a common defense made by employers that they relied on prior salaries to justify paying men and women differently. According to the 9th Circuit, “The Equal Pay Act stands for a principle as simple as it is just: men and women should receive equal pay for equal work regardless of sex. The question before us is also simple: can an employer justify a wage differential between male and female employees by relying on prior salary? Based on the text, history, and purpose of the Equal Pay Act, the answer is clear: No.”
According to the court, which has jurisdiction over cases from California, Alaska, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Montana, Idaho and Washington, a woman’s prior salary cannot be used to justify paying a female employee less than her male counterpart, whether it is used as the sole justification, or in combination with other factors. If employers were permitted to do so, then inequality in pay among genders would be perpetuated.
The court relied on studies showing that American women lose $840 billion annually as a result of the wage gap, which on average means women earn 80 cents for every dollar men earn.
Today is Equal Pay Day. Let’s raise awareness and advocate for closing the wage gap. Follow the hashtag #EqualPayDay on Twitter to learn more.

Women Can’t Have Prior Salaries Used Against Them, Court Says in Equal Pay Case.

Rizo v. Yovino, No. 16-15372 (9th Circuit April 9, 2018) Opinion:


Losing a job after reporting an act of bigotry

Freking Myers & Reul
Interesting article by James McNair from CityBeat:

Ex-Milacron electrician says he was fired after complaining about racial hate comment inscribed in bathroom

A Kennedy Heights man is claiming in a lawsuit that he was fired by a Batavia company after repeatedly complaining about a racially offensive comment written on a toilet paper dispenser in a factory bathroom.

The suit was filed last month in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati by Justin Evegan, who is black. Evegan alleges that Milacron Plastics Technologies Group, plant manager Tom McDonald and three other employees engaged in race discrimination and retaliation around his firing.

Evegan states that he was in a bathroom stall in August 2016 when he saw “Kill The Niggers” written on the toilet paper dispenser. Elsewhere in the stall, he claims, was an image of former President Obama riding a pig with a quote bubble saying “Allahu Akhbar” (Arabic for “God is great”). Above Obama was a group of balloons tied together by a noose.

Evegan says he reported the graffiti to his supervisor, who told him it had been removed. It wasn’t, Evegan says, so he took a picture of the phrase and showed it to his supervisor and, this time, McDonald. He says he was told it would be investigated.

When the phrase still hadn’t been removed, Evegan posted the picture on his Facebook page on Aug. 23 along with his comment, “This is what I have too deal with at my job. I told my forman (sic) two weeks ago about this and look. I bet if I put smthn up about another race it would be off the next day. #racismisSTILLreal.”

Evegan says he was fired Nov. 1 and that the phrase still hadn’t been removed the day prior to his dismissal.

“They claim they fired him for a different Facebook Live post about how hostile the work environment was,” says Evegan’s lawyer, Brian Butler of Cincinnati. “It depicted machines in the background, and the company says it violated their proprietary information policy.”

Evegan states he was originally hired by Milacron as an electrician in February 2016. Butler says Evegan has not found steady work since his firing. The lawsuit asks for unspecified financial damages and job reinstatement.

Milacron spokesman Michael Ellis says the company does not comment on pending lawsuits. But he says Milacron does not condone “the kind of behavior described in the lawsuit.”

“Milacron is committed to a fair workplace that is free from sexual, racial or other unlawful harassment, and from threats or acts of violence or physical intimidation,” Ellis says.



Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog

According to a lawsuit filed a week ago, Vanessa Burrous, a hiring manager at a Whataburger location in Tallahassee, Florida, was told by her Store Manager to review applications and only call in for interviews those persons who had names that “sounded white.”  The explanation given was that most of the customers were white and the company wanted the faces of its workers to “match” the customer base.  Burrous complained about the instruction and refused to follow it.  She was then retaliated against in the form of unwarranted discipline, increased workload and threats.   She met with the Area Manager and was told the instruction came from upper management.  She ultimately resigned rather than follow the instruction.  It takes a lot of courage for an employee to refuse an improper instruction and report it up the chain.  If the allegations are true, kudos to Burrous for doing so.  We’ll see what happens in court.

Whataburger manager was pressured to hire only white applicants …

Lawsuit: Whataburger ex-manager said she was told to hire white …

Whataburger Sued For Allegedly Racist Hiring Practices


Wal-Mart Gets Off The Hook Due To Punitive Damages Caps

Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog

Last Spring, a jury awarded a former Wal-Mart manager $5.5 million after finding that he had been retaliated against and fired after complaining about discrimination.  The case was in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut.  It was the first of three cases to go to trial filed by three African-American former managers.  The jury found that, after a number of managers complained about race discrimination, Wal-Mart engaged in a phony restructuring and eliminated the positions of the managers who complained.  Shortly after the positions were allegedly eliminated, similar positions reappeared.  The managers who had complained and been fired were prevented from interviewing for these positions and they were filled by non-African-Americans.  The jury determined there had been widespread retaliation and wanted to discourage Wal-Mart from engaging in similar conduct in the future.  Of the $5.5 million awarded by the jury, the vast majority ($5 million) was punitive damages.  Punitive damages are designed to punish an employer and deter future wrongful conduct.  Often the economic losses of a particular plaintiff don’t amount to a lot of money, particularly for a large corporation.  A couple of weeks ago, a federal judge reduced the punitive damages award from $5 million to 300,000 citing caps on damages under the statute.  These caps ought to be revisited.  Most people don’t ever challenge wrongful conduct by an employer.  Fewer ever retain an attorney and file suit.  Fewer still go through all the steps necessary to get to trial.  It can take many years to get there.  Once there, if a jury finds wrongful conduct on the part of a large company and wants to send a message to it to stop, it should not be prevented from doing so.  If a company is not forced to write a big check in the few instances where wrongful conduct is challenged all the way to a verdict by a jury, there is little incentive for it to change its ways.

Wal-Mart Hit With $5.5M Verdict for Retaliation | Connecticut Law …

Wal-Mart Worker Gets $5.5M Verdict In Retaliation Suit – Law360


Big Win For Equal Pay

Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog

Last week I blogged about how the use of salary at a prior job to set starting salary at a new job often held down compensation for women throughout their careers.  This blog is about an individual win for equal pay that should result in fair pay for the remainder of the career of one woman, Joanna Smith.

Smith held a degree in civil engineering and over 5 years of experience when she was hired into an Engineer III position with Prince George’s County in Maryland.  Smith attempted to negotiate a salary she believed was consistent with her education and experience, but the county refused.  Then just two weeks later it hired a male for another Engineer III position and paid him the higher salary he requested even though Smith and the male employee would be performing the same work.  The county was also paying a male in a lower position, Engineer II, more than Smith despite him having less experience and performing less complex duties.

Smith and the EEOC filed suit in 2015.  In March of this year the district court ruled that the county was, in fact, paying lower wages to Smith than to her male colleagues performing equal work in violation of the Equal Pay Act.  The county has now agreed to pay approximately $145,000 in back wages and other damages.  More importantly it agreed to raise Smith’s salary by $24,723 annually which will put her on equal footing with her male counterparts going forward.  The county also agreed to hire a consultant to assist it in making sure its compensation policies and salary determinations are compliant with the Equal Pay Act.

Prince George’s To Pay $145,402 And Increase Female Engineer’s Salary To Settle EEOC Pay Bias Suit

EEOC Sues Prince George’s County for Pay Discrimination