Female nurses at a home health care company in Wyoming will receive $50,000 as part of a settlement reached in an equal pay discrimination lawsuit. The nurses alleged a male nurse at the facility with less experience was paid more than female nurses with more experience.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, responsible for enforcing workplace anti-discrimination laws, cited violations of both Title VII’s prohibition against discriminatory pay and the Equal Pay Act as basis for the lawsuit. As our Orange County gender discrimination lawyers can explain, both of these federal laws outlaw pay discrimination on the basis of sex. What’s more in this case, the company reportedly failed to take any corrective action even after receiving complaints from BOTH the female nurses AND the male counterpart who was paid more.
The home health care company, franchise of a national firm, is now closed, according to The Casper Star Tribune. Although this happened out-of-state, the federal laws at issue apply just as much here in California, and this problem is by no means limited to healthcare workers in Wyoming – even though it’s been 55 years since the Equal Pay Gap was passed.
In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that women working full-time make 80 percent what their male counterparts do annually. Similar numbers were reported by Pew Research earlier this year. Roughly 1 in 4 women polled said they had worked somewhere they were paid less than a man for the same job. Conversely, only 5 percent of men said they had been adversely affected by gender pay discrimination.
It is especially bad in Wyoming, though, where women continue to make 77 percent of what their male counterparts do.
Male Nurse Given Advantage on Pay
In the Wyoming case, the male nurse in question had just two months of experience when he was hired. Yet he was given a starting salary of $29-an-hour. In comparison, one female nurse with 17 years of experience was earning just $28-an-hour. Spread that out over a full-time, 40-hour workweek, that amounts to an extra $2,000 annually the male nurse was being paid.
When the employees started to investigate further, they noted other female nurses earned similarly low rates. One nurse with two years experience made $26-an-hour. So did nurses with 18, 26 and 30 years of experience.
It was then discovered that a brand new female nurse with just one month of experience was hired at the $26-an-hour rate as well – still less than the man, but the same rate as those with exponentially more experience, hinting that age discrimination was possibly at play also.
All of this was despite the fact that they were told pay was based on experience.
The male nurse joined his colleagues in bringing this to management’s attention, and all were told they shouldn’t be discussing pay at all. The male nurse said he’d take a pay cut so that his rate would be lower. He resigned before that new pay rate could be implemented. In fact, numerous employees later resigned, some indicating they’d been subjected to sexual harassment as well (a male supervisor slapping and grabbing female subordinates).
Know Your Right to Protection Against Wage Discrimination
Our gender wage discrimination lawyers know corporations frequently insist on a code of silence when it comes to employees discussing salary among themselves. That’s why so many female workers have no idea they’re victims of wage discrimination – unless they talk to a male colleague who happens to tell them.
But if you work in the private sector, your employer is not allowed to stop you from talking about how much money you make or asking someone else how much they earn. The National Labor Relations Act prohibits workplace policies that ban workers from talking about compensation and wages.
It’s a little different if you work in the public sector because the pay scales are more systematic, but most of that information (roughly 70 percent) is public anyway.
In this state, California Labor Code Section 432.3 prohibits public and private sector employers from even asking potential hires about their past salary history. That doesn’t mean you can’t volunteer the information without prompting, but it’s a good idea to bear in mind that the law was passed in order to subvert systemic wage discrimination.
Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 714-937-2020.