(CN) – A group of male and female nurse practitioners can’t sue the government under the Equal Pay Act, the Court of Federal Claims ruled, because the Act does not apply to mixed-gendered groups of employees.
The plaintiffs are current and former nurse practitioners who worked for the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs in the Tennessee Valley Healthcare System. The group is made up of about 80 percent women and 20 percent men. They claimed they were paid less than physician assistants working in the same system.
According to the plaintiffs, nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) don’t receive equal pay for equal work.
They said the VA couldn’t justify the wage gap on any basis except gender: NPs are predominantly female, and PAs are mostly male (40 percent female and 60 percent male, according to the plaintiffs).
The government won summary judgment on the basis that the Equal Pay Act “was not intended to remedy such a diffuse situation; the EPA addresses unequal pay when the groups are not mixed,” Judge Miller wrote.