(CN) – A group of mostly male physician assistants won reinstatement of their claim that the Department of Veterans Affairs in Texas pays them less than female nurse practitioners, even though the jobs are roughly the same.
The U.S. Court of Federal Claims rejected the government’s motion to dismiss, saying the plaintiffs “have established prima facie elements of an Equal Pay Act claim.”
The court noted that physician assistants and nurse practitioners have roughly equal jobs at the VA in central Texas, involving similar skills, effort and responsibility.
Physician assistants are 80 percent male and 20 percent female, while the higher-paid nurse practitioners are 90 percent female and 10 percent male.
Six male and three female physician assistants sued over the wage disparity.
The government argued that the Equal Pay Act doesn’t apply to their case, because the groups being compared include both men and women.
But the existence of a few token men or women in an otherwise homogenous group shouldn’t bar equal-pay claims, the claims court said.
“The numbers in this case are not so clearly gender-mixed that recovery under the Act must be precluded as a matter of law,” Judge Hodges wrote.
The court allowed the case to move forward.