National Rail Carrier Underpaid Director Then Retaliated Against Her for Complaining, Federal Agency Charged
PHILADELPHIA – Amtrak, the nation’s largest rail carrier, will pay $171,483, raise the salary of a female human resources manager, and furnish other relief to settle a sex-based wage discrimination and retaliation lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today.
The EEOC charged that the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, also known as Amtrak, violated Title VII by engaging in a long-standing pattern of unlawful sex discrimination against a human resources regional director, Sheila Davidson, who works at the carrier’s 30th Street Station facility in Philadelphia. The EEOC said that Amtrak suppressed Davidson’s pay while she served as the human resources director for the eastern region, while giving her a greater workload than it gave to her two male counterparts, who were also human resources regional directors. The EEOC further alleged that, after refusing to raise Davidson’s salary above that of her male counterparts despite her heavier workload, Amtrak immediately increased the pay of one of the males when he was assigned to the eastern region, which was formerly Davidson’s territory.
The EEOC also contended that Amtrak violated Title VII and the Equal Pay Act by unlawfully retaliating against Davidson, including barring her from senior staff meetings, after she complained internally about the wage discrimination and later filed a charge with the EEOC.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act of 1963 prohibit discrimination in compensation based on sex. Title VII was amended in 2009 by the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 to enable women to bring claims of pay discrimination within 300 days of when they learn of discriminatory pay practices. Both Title VII and the EPA 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 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Civil Action No. 2:11-cv-00692) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to the $171,483 monetary settlement to be paid to Davidson, Amtrak will increase her annual salary by $16,505 to match it to that now earned by the male colleague whose salary was raised when he was assigned to Davidson’s former territory. The two-year consent decree resolving the lawsuit also prohibits Amtrak from engaging in any further sex discrimination or retaliation and requires the rail carrier to provide four hours of training to senior human resources staff on anti-discrimination laws, as well as post a remedial notice at Amtrak’s six regional offices and corporate headquarters.
“As a member agency of the President’s Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force, the EEOC is committed to taking appropriate action to remedy sex-based wage discrimination and to ensuring that employees who exercise their federal rights to protest pay discrimination are not subjected to unlawful retaliation,” 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.
EEOC Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence added, “In addition to the significant monetary relief, Amtrak will raise Ms. Davidon’s salary so it is on par with her male counterparts and commensurate with her duties. We are pleased that Amtrak worked with us to resolve this lawsuit expeditiously without engaging in costly litigation.”
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, www.amtrak.com, Amtrak operates a nationwide rail network, serving more than 500 destinations in 46 states and three Canadian provinces on more than 21,200 miles of routes, with more than 20,000 employees.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.