Winter recreation vehicle manufacturer, SnoBear USA, Inc., is set to pay $20,000 in order to settle an equal pay lawsuit. The lawsuit charges that discrimination on the basis of sex blocked the equal pay opportunity of an equally qualified female employee. There are some important takeaways for employers in this case, especially for those working in traditionally male-dominated industries.
Details of the Case
The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) who claimed that SnoBear violated federal discrimination law by compensating a female welder less than male welders with the same experience and skill levels. The EEOC charged that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Pay Act (EPA) disallow discrimination on the basis of sex. The EEOC attempted to reach a pre-litigation settlement but the suit was eventually filed.
The suit was settled with a four-year consent decree which has SnoBear paying $20,000 in monetary relief to the victim. Non-monetary relief will be offered as well with the intention of avoiding discrimination at SnoBear in the future. The decree includes the training of all managers on applicable discrimination law and SnoBear will track pay by job title and gender and regularly report this information to the EEOC.
Discriminatory Company Policies
Male-dominated fields often struggle with maintaining a company culture that includes the skills and needs of women. While the victim in this lawsuit reportedly had the same experience and skill level as her male coworkers, she was receiving less pay for the same work. A culture that undervalues women will allow this to occur without hesitation, so it’s important for managers to monitor the impacts of what is deemed permissible on a regular basis so that they can understand if the workplace has normalized discrimination, making it harder and harder to catch.
Reminder for Employers
Greg Gochanour, regional attorney for the EEOC in Chicago, sees the resolution as positive; resulting in a win/win for the victim and the company in the long run. “In addition to compensating the affected female employee, the decree will allow the EEOC to continue to monitor compliance for an extended period of time,” he said. “We expect that by ensuring pay equity, the decree will also help SnoBear attract the most qualified workforce without regard to gender.”
So, the reminder for employers here is twofold: paying your employees based on their gender will cost you big, but correcting your missteps can provide more opportunity for growth and will open up a pool of qualified candidates who may otherwise have not applied. Any prospective employee who believes he or she will be undervalued based on discriminatory factors will avoid applying to such a workplace.
If you are being paid less for equal work and skill, we have some tips that may be able to help. No one should have to experience discrimination based on gender or sex in their place of employment — or anywhere — and there are steps you can take to protect yourself. Review our strategies for handling workplace discrimination.