Healthcare Firm to Pay $50,000 to Settle EEOC Equal Pay Discrimination Lawsuit

Woman and men with question marks.

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On October 22, 2019, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – the federal agency enforcing laws prohibiting employment discrimination – announced that Interim Healthcare of Wyoming will pay $50,000 to settle an equal pay discrimination lawsuit brought by the EEOC that claimed female nurses were paid less money than a male nurse with not as much experience, according to a press release from the EEOC.

The EEOC lawsuit claimed the company underpaid female nurses despite their performing substantially equal work under similar working conditions which violates both the Equal Pay Act (EPA) of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibit discrimination in compensation on the basis of sex. In addition, the company did not take corrective action despite complaints from the female nurses and their male counterpart.

“Enforcing the Equal Pay Act and Title VII’s prohibition on compensation discrimination are priorities for the EEOC,” EEOC Phoenix District Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill stated in the press release. Enforcement of equal pay laws and targeting compensation systems and practices that discriminate based on gender is one of six national priorities identified by the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan.

In May of 2019, the EEOC announced a Kansas school district agreed to pay $11,250 to settle a wage discrimination lawsuit that claimed a female principal was paid less than male principals for the same job at the same school. This conduct violated the EPA, which prohibits employers from paying women and men unequally for a job with the same required skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions.

According to the National Committee on Pay Equity (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 in 1963. 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 about salary history have increased to narrow the gender pay gap.

As of October of 2019, bans on salary history questions that help to ensure equal pay exist in the cities such as Atlanta, Chicago, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Louisville, New Orleans, New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco. The states of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Wisconsin have also passed similar bans.

“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, or else that employer could be fined,” said Rosen, noting that the growth of laws prohibiting employers from asking about salary history 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 flexibile 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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