Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn
In January of 2019, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – which enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination – announced that a settlement of $36,802 was reached in an EEOC equal pay discrimination lawsuit, according to an EEOC press release.
EEOC Equal Pay Discrimination Lawsuit
The EEOC charged that the Maryland Insurance Administration had paid three female fraud investigators lower salaries than it paid to several male fraud investigators for the same work. According to the lawsuit, the payments were based on gender, which is a violation of the federal Equal Pay Act (EPA) of 1963.
The EPA prohibits pay discrimination based on sex. The EEOC filed a lawsuit – U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Maryland Insurance Administration (Case No. 1:15-cv-01091) – in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Northern Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement.
In addition to the $36,802 in back pay and liquidated damages, the EEOC equal pay discrimination lawsuit settlement provides relief including prohibiting the Maryland Insurance Administration – Maryland’s agency charged with regulating the insurance industry – from violating the EPA in the future.
The Maryland Insurance Administration must also create policies to require specific non-gender-based criteria for setting wages, post a notice specifically outlining its obligations under this statute, and report to the EEOC on how it handles any future complaints of sex-based wage discrimination.
“We are pleased that the Maryland Insurance Administration worked closely with us to resolve this case, ensuring a fair result and avoiding further litigation costs,” EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence stated. “This settlement protects all employees from sex-based wage discrimination going forward.”
Addressing emerging and developing issues in equal employment law such as the EPA, which prohibits sex discrimination in the payment of wages to men and women performing equal work, is one of six national priorities identified by the EEOC Strategic Enforcement Plan for 2018-2022.
The EEOC is actively involved in pay discrimination matters. In October 2018, Denton County in Texas agreed to pay $115,000 to a female doctor after a federal court ruled in favor of an EEOC equal pay discrimination lawsuit filed over violations of the EPA and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau show women earned 80 percent of what men earned in 2015. The gender wage gap between men and women has narrowed by less than one-half a penny per year in the U.S. since 1963 when Congress passed the EPA, according to the National Committee on Pay Equity.
Laws prohibiting employers from seeking salary history information about applicants will increase as the equal pay movement to narrow the gender wage gap spreads and was chosen by background check firm Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) as one of the “ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends” in 2019.
Laws prohibiting salary history questions are spreading. In 2018, Hawaii passed Senate Bill 2351 (SB 2351), California passed Assembly Bill 2282 AB (2282), Kansas City, Missouri removed the salary history question from city applications, and New Jersey passed the “historic” and “sweeping” Equal Pay Act.
“If new pay is based on previous pay, then gender pay gaps are perpetuated. The goal of such laws is to base compensation on the work performed and not on reliance on previous pay that may reflect gender discrimination,” according to ESR founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Attorney Lester Rosen.
“When an employer has a background screening firm perform past employment verifications, it is critical that firm knows which states and cities prohibit such questions as well as software that facilitates compliance or else that employer could be fined,” warned Rosen, author of “The Safe Hiring Manual.”
ESR Employment Verifications Comply with Equal Pay Laws
Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global background check firm – offers employment verifications that provide the applicant’s rate of pay only if permissible under state and local salary history and equal pay laws. To learn more, visit www.esrcheck.com/Background-Checks/Verifications-References/.
NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.
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