The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently sued the Port Authority of NY & NJ, claiming the Port Authority violated the Equal Pay Act ("EPA") by paying non-supervisory female lawyers less than their male counterparts. The EPA is a federal law that prohibits employers from considering gender as a basis for paying employees different wages for the same work. The lawsuit also alleges that the Port Authority violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA") by firing older attorneys and replacing them with younger attorneys. The ADEA is a federal law that prohibits age discrimination in employment.
According to the EEOC's press release, the Port Authority paid male attorneys more than female attorneys for work requiring the same skill, effort and responsibility. The EEOC claims the gender pay disparity occurred regardless of the attorney's job assignment, years of service, or date of admission to the bar.
The allegations stem from the Port Authority's decision to fire two female attorneys over the age of 40 as part of a purported "reduction in force." Earlier this year, the EEOC attempted to reach an amicable settlement with the Port Authority, but those efforts failed. It then filed the lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.
As Louis Graziano, the attorney handling the case for the EEOC, stated:
Achieving a work force that embodies equal pay for equal work and eliminates sex-based pay discrimination has been the objective of federal law for nearly 50 years. This lawsuit makes it clear that the unfortunate reality - that at some workplaces women still earn less than men, even though they are performing the same work and have the same qualifications - continues to plague the workplace and will not be tolerated.