Court OKs double trouble in pay bias case

A federal court hearing a case brought by the EEOC against a Texas county has allowed an alleged victim of discrimination to add additional charges in an Equal Pay Act case the EEOC is already litigating. As a practical matter, that means the employer will have to fight even more attorneys while defending its pay practices.

Recent case: The EEOC sued Denton County, alleging that its health department pays female and male medical professionals differently for doing the same or substantially similar work. The lawsuit was filed under the Equal Pay Act and alleged that Martha, a primary care clinician, was paid less than a man performing the same job. The EEOC claimed the pay disparity was at least $34,000 per year.

Martha’s attorneys sought to intervene and bring Title VII sex discrimination claims into the case. The county objected, arguing that it was enough that the EEOC was pressing EPA claims.

But the court sided with Martha and said her attorneys could enter the case and make additional sex discrimination claims at the same time the EEOC was pushing its EPA claim.

Essentially, the court concluded that Martha’s right to have her claims heard could not be guaranteed when the EEOC was concentrating on just one possible violation and therefore her attorneys should be able to push her other sex discrimination claims. (EEOC v. Denton County, ED TX, 2017)

Final note: The EEOC appears to be actively challenging pay practices at medical facilities and in medical practices.

Pay disparities can result from numerous factors such as training, experience and shortages of some specialties. That makes the problem—and the threat of litigation—fairly common.

If you are in the medical field, now may be a good time to perform a pay audit.