In early April of 2014 it was announced that the case Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Market Burgers, L.L.C., d/b/a Checkers would be settled for $100,000.00. This was a relatively straightforward equal pay case, in which the EEOC claimed that the Defendant had violated both the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In its Complaint the Commission alleged i) that female employees of a Checkers restaurant in Philadelphia were paid less than their male counterparts for equal work (the difference being typically between /$.50 and $2.75 per hour), and ii) denied opportunities to work full-time schedules, or to work overtime, solely on the basis of their sex.
The complaint states that the company’s discrimination against female employees was systematic and intentional; the EEOC cited several examples of women who were paid less than their male counterparts, and the disparity was found for employees in both “Cashier/Sandwich Maker” and “Shift Manager” positions.
The EEOC began by conducting an investigation of the Defendant’s employment practices after a claim was brought to them by Plaintiff LaToya Snyder. The Commission concluded that Ms. Snyder’s allegations were well-founded and wrote a letter to Market Burgers, L.L.C. notifying them of the results of their investigation and attempting through “conciliation, conference, and persuasion” to cause the company to end its unlawful practices. The company did not respond, and the EEOC proceeded to take legal action in August 2013.
Representatives of the EEOC have been quick to point out the broad implications of this settlement, coming as it does in the context of sustained efforts by the Obama administration to promote . District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr. of the EEOC’s Philadelphia District office said: “As this lawsuit demonstrated, discrimination in hourly rates of pay and scheduling can result in substantial lost income for female workers and their families…This is a significant settlement because it remedies pay discrimination based on gender for lower-wage workers and changes the restaurant’s compensation practices to ensure that female employees are paid the same as their male counterparts.”
EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, “The EEOC is a member of the White House Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force, and addressing wage discrimination claims is one of our priority issues. We are pleased that Market Burgers worked with us to resolve this case early in the litigation. The settlement compensates class members for their lost wages and contains important equitable relief and training provisions designed to prevent any future wage discrimination.”
In addition to the monetary relief to members of the class of current and former female employees, the settlement requires the company to take remedial measures such as ending its discriminatory practices and increasing the hourly wages of female cashiers/sandwich makers to match the wage rate it pays to males performing equal work. In addition, Market Burgers agreed to provide training on complying with Title VII’s and the EPA’s prohibition against sex-based wage discrimination with a focus on the legal prohibitions on making discriminatory job assignments based on sex.
If you believe your employer has paid you less than others in the same position because of your sex, please contact The Harman Firm, LLP