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Texas agencies settle with Feds over pay disparities

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in Compensation and Benefits,Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the EEOC have an­­nounced a settlement with two Texas state agen­­cies, resolving pay discrimination allegations at a state department that no longer exists.

The DOJ had alleged that the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) and the Texas General Land Office (GLO)—successors in interest to the now-defunct Texas Depart­­ment of Rural Affairs (TDRA)—were liable for pay discrimination on the basis of sex, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act of 1963.

The DOJ argued that the TDRA discriminated against three female program specialists on the basis of their sex by paying them significantly less than their male counterparts for performing essentially the same work. In addition, the DOJ claimed that when the TDRA acted to address the salary disparities, it increased the female employees’ salaries but did not promote them to the same level as their male counterparts.

According to the complaint, the TDRA also failed to retroactively compensate the women for having previously underpaid them.

Finally, the DOJ alleged the TDRA retaliated against the three employees at the center of the dispute by firing them in retaliation for their opposition to the pay disparities, a violation of the Equal Pay Act.

The settlement agreement resolves both the DOJ’s and the EEOC’s complaints.

Under the agreement, the TDA has agreed to hand over $175,000 in back pay to the three women. The agency must also maintain employment policies and practices that comply with all federal laws and regulations, including Title  VII and the Equal Pay Act).

The TDA also provided its anti-discrimination policy to the federal agencies for review and comment. In addition, it must train employees on the laws.

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