Tuesday, November 14, 2017

High school friends win Equal Pay Act case

The law can get complicated . . . and then there's this case, which, according to the EEOC press release, is pretty straightforward:
[T]wo high school friends, Jensen Walcott and Jake Reed, applied to work at Pizza Studio as "pizza artists" in 2016. After both were interviewed and offered jobs, Walcott and Reed discussed their starting wages. Upon learning that Reed was offered 25¢ more per hour, Walcott called the restaurant to complain about the unequal pay. When she did so, the company immediately withdrew its offers of employment from both Walcott and Reed.
Not official use.
EPA claims can get pretty tricky because employers have so many different factors they can point to when trying to justify pay disparities. I suspect there are fewer defenses available when the plaintiff is a high school-level "pizza artist" (and the retaliation sounds pretty blatant). In any event, what did they win?
Federal District Judge Carlos Murguia's order awards both Walcott and Reed back pay for lost wages as well as liquidated, compensatory, and punitive damages . . . .today's order also requires [Defendant] to implement significant policy changes, conduct training, collect and analyze pay and other data, and report data and complaints to the EEOC, each in order to prevent future violations of the law.
The EEOC press release also reminds us about their priorities identified in the Strategic Enforcement Plan:
1. Eliminating Barriers in Recruitment and Hiring.
2. Protecting Vulnerable Workers, Including Immigrant and Migrant Workers, and Underserved Communities from Discrimination.
3. Addressing Selected Emerging and Developing Issues.
4. Ensuring Equal Pay Protections for All Workers.
5. Preserving Access to the Legal System.
6. Preventing Systemic Harassment.