USA Sues Texas for Underpaying Women

     AUSTIN (CN) – The Texas Department of Agriculture and its General Land Office paid women as much as $32,000 less than male employees who did the same work, the United States claims in Federal Court.
     Prosecutors say both agencies share responsibility for the Texas Department of Rural Affairs, a predecessor agency where Monica Mota, Tina Lewis and Dalinda Newby worked as program specialists in the disaster recovery division.
     Mota filed an internal complaint after she learned that all women at her level in the division were paid significantly less than men at the same level.
     In April 2010, agency management determined that the salaries for the four women at Mota’s level “fell significantly short of the expected values,” compared to the men.
     “The four female Program Specialist VIIs, Bosquez Mota, Lewis, Newby, and another female Program Specialist VII named in the internal document, were compensated between approximately $62,000 and $72,522 a year,” the complaint states. “The male Program Specialist VIIs, named in the internal document, were compensated between approximately $79,631 and $95,157 a year.”
     The complaint adds: “As a result of the salary assessment, the TDRA gave salary increases to all four female Program Specialist VIIs, calling such increases an ‘Equity Adjustment.’ This Equity Adjustment brought the women’s compensation closer, but not equal to, the salaries of similarly situated men performing substantially the same work.”
     The division was shut down February 2011; the women say they were fired in retaliation after they were not hired by the Department of Rural Affairs. They say there was no application process provided for the open positions and that the two Program Specialist VIIs hired were both men.
     “This lawsuit highlights the critical need for continued attention to equal pay issues in this country,” said Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for civil rights. “The wage gap between women and men persists, and the Civil Rights Division is committed to using all the tools available under this nation’s employment discrimination laws to ensure equal pay for equal work.”
     Uncle Sam seeks compensatory damages, back pay and injunctive relief for the three women.

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