Recent Rulings: Equal Pay Violations

Massachusetts just passed a new law, the first in the country, prohibiting employers from asking about past salary information during a job interview. This law is meant to protect women from employers who might pay them less than the job is worth simply because their prior pay is low compared to male candidates. As the recent election cycle has shown, qualified female applicants typically earn 79% of what equally qualified male applicants earn for the same job. This new Massachusetts law will go into effect July 2018. In the meantime, women are protected from equal pay violations under state and federal anti-discrimination laws.

Connecticut has no similar law prohibiting salary inquiries during job interviews, but women are protected against equal pay violations under state and federal anti-discrimination laws.

A federal court in Alabama recently denied an employer’s motion to dismiss a case brought by four female employees who alleged that they were paid less than their male counterparts simply because they were female.  In the case of one of the plaintiffs, she was told that a position that she applied for would pay $54,000.  A man was hired into the position instead of her, and he was paid $70,000 for the job.  The court held that there were questions of fact that needed to be tried and did not dismiss the case.
Rollins v. Alabama Community College System, 2011 WL 3841852
(M.D. Ala. Aug. 26, 2011) (Albritton, J.). 

A federal court in Tennessee has held that an employer who paid its female employees less than its male employees was not entitled to have the case dismissed.  In that case, a female worker in a home for needy children was paid less than men who had similar educational and work qualifications and who performed the same (or less) work than she.  The court calculated the average salaries of male and female workers and determined that the employee had enough evidence to go to a jury.
Tolliver v. Children’s Home-Chambliss Shelter, 2011 WL 1159646
(E.D. Tenn. March 28, 2011) (Collier, J.). 

A Texas court recently denied an employer’s motion to dismiss a case brought by a female employee who was paid substantially less than her male co-workers.  The court held that she had shown that the male co-workers’ jobs required “equal skill, effort and responsibility” and that they were paid less than she was.  The court also held that the employer’s reason for the disparity- that the male employees had more experience and had to travel more in their jobs- was not a good enough reason to dismiss the female employee’s case.
Wojciechowski v. National Oilwell Varco, LP, 2011 WL 121739
(S.D. Tex. Jan. 12, 2011.) 

Attorney Hayber was successful in defeating an employer’s motion to dismiss a female employee’s case alleging violations of the state and federal laws prohibiting unequal pay based on gender.  In that case, a female kitchen designer at Home Depot was paid substantially less than her male counterparts even though her sales numbers were higher than her co-workers’.  The court held that the employer had not shown conclusively that it had any legitimate reason for paying the employee less than the males employed as kitchen designers.
Osborn v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc., 518 F. Supp. 2d 377
(D. Conn. 2007). 

Read More about Gender Discrimination Laws in Connecticut

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