Three female employees of the City of San Antonio, Texas have filed a federal lawsuit alleging pay discrimination.
Christine Peden and Jeanne Martinez, employees of the City’s Animal Care Services, discovered they were being paid less than male coworkers with the same job title of operations managers. They filed a federal lawsuit, which was joined by Brenda Werts, then an employee of the Capital Improvements Management Services department. The lawsuit alleges violation of the federal Equal Pay Act and pay discrimination. Martinez and Peden also accuse the city of retaliating against them after they raised their concerns about pay.
The women’s arguments were recently supported by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency that investigates employment discrimination, which found that the City had indeed discriminated against them. The EEOC also found that the City’s use of “counseling letters” to respond to the women’s concerns about their pay constituted a violation of the Equal Pay Act. The EEOC is now attempting to facilitate a settlement between the City and the women through a “conciliation” process.
The federal lawsuit is proceeding separately. According to the women’s attorney, the lawsuit is in the discovery process, and mediation efforts have been unsuccessful thus far.
According to the National Women’s Law Center, Texas’ gender wage disparity is comparable to the national pay gap between women and men. On average in the U.S. and in Texas, women earn $0.79 for every $1.00 men earn.
The Equal Pay Act provides that women and men in the same workplace, who work substantially equal jobs, be given equal pay. The Act applies to all types of pay, including salary, wages, bonuses and vacation pay. Employers are not permitted to reduce the pay of either sex to correct a wage disparity.