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Employees in ‘unique’ jobs can use broad comparisons to show pay bias

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Nancy Kroh successfully sued for gender discrimination, claiming her male colleagues were treated more favorably. But on appeal, the court tossed the award out. The com-pany convinced the appeals court that Kroh had failed to prove that the male co-workers to whom she compared herself were "similarly situated" employees. Her job was unique, the company said, and so you can't compare her pay to any other workers' pay.

But the Ohio Supreme Court reinstated the $708,000 award. It said the male employees' positions were close enough to Kroh's. Specifically, she and the male co-workers had the same boss, similar titles, similar levels on the company's organizational chart and the same salary classification. (Kroh v. Continental General Tire Inc., No. 00-16, Ohio Sup. Ct., 2001)

Advice: Just because an employee appears to be the only one in a position, you're not off the hook. If his or her pay is substantially different from workers of the other gender in similar positions, you may still be in trouble. And this case shows that courts will look broadly at what's considered a "similar" job.

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