Texas State Agencies to Pay $175,000 to Settle EEOC and DOJ Wage Discrimination Suits

AUSTIN, Texas - Two Texas state agencies will pay $175,000 to settle sex discrimination lawsuits filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the U.S. Department of Justice's (DOJ) Civil Rights Division, the federal entities announced today. The EEOC and DOJ had charged the state agencies with responsibility for gender-based pay discrimination at another, now-defunct, state agency.

The federal agencies sued the Texas Department of Agriculture and the Texas General Land Office for wage discrimination suffered by former female employees of the now-defunct Texas Department of Rural Affairs (TDRA). The EEOC, which has litigation authority against state and local governments pursuant to the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA), which is part of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), charged that TDRA paid a former program specialist lower wages than it paid to a comparable male employee in the same division, for substantially equal work, the performance of which required equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which was performed under similar working conditions.

The parallel lawsuit filed by DOJ, which has litigation authority with respect to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for governmental employers, alleged that three female TDRA employees were subjected to wage discrimination because of their sex and terminated in retaliation for complaining about the unfairness. Sex-based wage discrimination and retaliation violate both the EPA and Title VII.

Given the common aspects of the claims, the two lawsuits were consolidated as EEOC and United States of America v. Texas Department of Agriculture and Texas General Land Office, Case No. A-11-CA-827 LY in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Austin Division.

Judge Lee Yeakel has signed and approved a settlement requiring the Texas departments to pay $175,000 to three female employees who were paid less than their male counterparts, representing back pay as compensation for the difference in wages.

EEOC General Counsel David Lopez said, "This case highlights the fact that there is still much work to be done in the area of equal pay, 49 years after the Equal Pay Act was enacted. This resolution reflects the EEOC's commitment to work collaboratively with its governmental partner to enforce laws that require equal pay for men and women performing the same jobs."