EEOC Sues Amtrak For Sex-Based Wage Discrimination And Retaliation

National Rail Carrier Retaliated Against Female Human Resources Regional Director Because She Complained About Pay Discrimination, Federal Agency Charges

PHILADELPHIA – The nation’s largest rail carrier paid a human resources regional director less money because of her sex and then unlawfully retaliated against her when she complained about the wage discrimination, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today.

The EEOC charged that beginning in 2001, the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, also known as Amtrak, discriminated against Sheila Davidson in her compensation and work assignments because of her sex. The EEOC said that Amtrak paid Davidson, a human resources manager assigned to the rail carrier’s 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, the same salary as it paid two male human resources regional directors, even though Davidson had more relevant experience and was assigned a far greater workload than her male counterparts.

The pattern of sex discrimination against Davidson continues to have a negative affect on her compensation and benefits even after she was laterally transferred to the position of director of work force planning in 2006, the EEOC said in its lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Civil Action No. 2:11-cv-00692.

The EEOC also charged that Amtrak violated Title VII and the Equal Pay Act of 1963 by unlawfully retaliating against Davidson because she complained about the wage discrimination and filed a charge with the EEOC. The retaliation includes barring Davidson from participating in senior staff meetings, the EEOC said.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in compensation and other terms and conditions of employment based on sex. Both Title VII and the Equal Pay Act prohibit employers from retaliating against an employee who complains about pay discrimination or files a charge of discrimination with the EEOC.

The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. In its lawsuit, the EEOC seeks injunctive relief prohibiting discriminatory practices based on sex or retaliation, as well as lost wages and compensatory and punitive damages for Davidson and other affirmative relief.

“As a member agency of the President’s Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force, the EEOC is committed to strong enforcement of the equal pay laws,” said Spencer H. Lewis, Jr., director of the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office, which oversees Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. “Employers should be on notice that they will be held accountable if they engage in wage discrimination based on sex or if they punish employees who exercise their federal right to complain about sex-based wage disparities.”

EEOC Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence added, “Denying Davidson a salary commensurate with her greater workload not only showed bad business judgment, it also constituted a violation of federal law. We hope this lawsuit reminds all employers to review their compensation policies and practices to make sure they are not engaging in unlawful wage discrimination.”

In Fiscal Year 2010, private sector workplace discrimination charge filings with the EEOC hit an unprecedented level of 99,922, which included a record-high number of retaliation charges (36,258) and sex discrimination charges (29,029).

According to its website,, Amtrak operates a nationwide rail network serving over 500 destinations in 46 states and three Canadian provinces on more than 21,000 miles of routes, with more than 19,000 employees.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at