EEOC Announces Kansas School District to Pay $11,250 to Settle Equal Pay Act Discrimination Lawsuit

Equal Pay

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On May 16, 2019, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – the agency that enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination – announced that a Kansas school district has agreed to pay $11,250 and provide other relief to settle an equal pay discrimination lawsuit filed by the EEOC that claimed a female principal was paid less than male principals for the same job at the same school.

According to the EEOC lawsuit filed against Unified School District 245 LeRoy-Gridley (USD 245), Julie Rosenquist was hired as the principal of Gridley Elementary and Southern Coffey County Middle School in 2015 and was paid $5,000 less than her male predecessor. In 2017, when Rosenquist left the position, USD 245 paid her male replacement the same salary as Rosenquist’s male predecessor.

The alleged conduct violates The Equal Pay Act (EPA) of 1963 which prohibits employers from paying women and men unequally for a job with the same required skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions. The lawsuit Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Unified School District 245 LeRoy-Gridley (Civil Action No. 2:18-cv-2398) was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas.

“Ensuring equal pay protections for all workers remains one of the agency’s top priorities. We urge all employers to look closely at their pay practices and ensure that they are paying women and men equally for doing jobs that require the same skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions,” L. Jack Vasquez, Jr., acting director of the EEOC’s St. Louis District Office, stated in a press release about the settlement.  

The announcement from the EEOC about the settlement in the equal pay discrimination lawsuit came more than one month after Equal Pay Day – the symbolic day dedicated to raising awareness about the gender pay gap in the United States – which was held on April 2, 2019, to symbolize how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year. The exact date differs from year to year.

Equal Pay Day was originated by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) in 1996 as a public awareness event to illustrate the gap between men’s and women’s wages. Since the latest wage figures will not be available until late August or September, the NCPE selected a Tuesday in April as Equal Pay Day. For more information about Equal Pay Day, see the NCPE’s Equal Pay Day Kit or contact the NCPE.

According to the NCPE, the gender wage gap has narrowed by less than one-half a penny per year in the United States since Congress passed the EPA while statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau revealed that women earned 80 percent of what men earned in 2015. As a result, laws prohibiting employers from asking applicants about salary history have increased in the U.S. as the equal pay movement spreads.

Bans on employers asking about salary history have passed in cities such as Atlanta, Chicago, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Louisville, New Orleans, New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco. Salary history bans have also passed in the states of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

“If new pay is based on previous pay, then gender pay gaps are perpetuated. The goal of equal pay laws is to base compensation on the work performed and not rely on previous pay that may reflect gender discrimination,” explained Attorney Lester Rosen, the founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of  Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) and the author of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual.’

“When an employer has a background screening firm perform past employment verifications, it is critical that firm knows which cities, counties, and states prohibit such questions, as well as software that facilitates compliance with equal pay laws, or else that employer could be fined,” said Rosen, noting that this trend was chosen by ESR as one of the “ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends” for 2019.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global background check provider – offers employers flexible and customizable employment verifications that provide the salary history of applicants only if permitted by state and local equal pay laws. To learn more about employment verifications from ESR, 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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