(CN) - A Transportation Security Administration screener established a prima facie case that the agency violated the Equal Pay Act by paying male workers higher salaries than female workers for the same work, the Court of Federal Claims ruled.
Airport security agency hired Paula Moorehead as a screener at a minimum base salary of $23,600, but hired male workers around the same time at salaries above the base salary.
"(B)oth parties state that more males than females were hired at a starting salary above the minimum provided by TSA's 2002 Salary Guidance," the court ruled. "The Court infers that the female screeners performed work substantially equivalent to that performed by male screeners and were paid a lower salary for such work."
The government tried to explain the salary discrepancy by citing factors in the application process that boost men's salaries, such as prior law enforcement experience, managerial experience and higher pay during a previous job.
The claims court noted that such hiring practices have been singled out by other courts for perpetuating the trend of hiring women for less, but added that "experience is often cited by the courts as a business reason that is acceptable under the (Equal Pay Act) as a factor other than sex."
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