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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



PRESS RELEASE
9-28-12

EEOC Sues PFERD Milwaukee Brush for Pay Bias

Company  Refused to Pay Female Employee Equal Wages, Federal Agency Charges

MILWAUKEE, Wis. - PFERD Milwaukee Brush Company, Inc., an international manufac­turer of abrasive tools, power brushes, maintenance brushes and  power tools, violated federal  law by not paying a female employee the same salary that it paid her  male predecessor, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged  in a lawsuit it filed this week.

According to John  Rowe, director of EEOC's Chicago District, which includes Wisconsin, the  agency's investigation revealed that starting in May 2010, when Dawn Fuchs's predecessor, Gerry Wagner, retired and Fuchs became purchasing coordinator, she  has been performing the same purchasing and receiving duties that Wagner  did.  Further, the EEOC said, Fuchs has  performed the additional duties of scheduling for one machine, acting as the back-up  for the warehouse manager, and performing certain human resources functions. 

Denying a female employee equal pay for work which is at  least equal to a male employee's in skill, effort, and responsibility, and  which is performed under the same or similar working conditions, violates the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and  Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a  pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.  The agency seeks lost wages and compensatory  and punitive damages for Fuchs, an order barring future discrimination, and  other relief.  The suit, captioned EEOC v. PFERD  Milwaukee Brush Company, Inc. (Civil  Action No. 2:12-cv-982), was filed Sept. 26 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern  District of Wisconsin in Milwaukee and assigned to U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy  Joseph.

"The time has long since passed when women should have to  earn less money for doing the same work as their male counterparts," Rowe said.  "Unfortunately,  it appears that not all employers have gotten the message that Congress stated  in the Equal Pay Act of 1963."

 EEOC Chicago Regional Attorney John C.  Hendrickson added, "When women are  underpaid, the violation follows them into retirement as they accumulate less  social security or pension based on their lowered wages.  We are determined to ensure that women are  treated as they should be under federal law."

The EEOC is a member  of the White House Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force and has engaged in a number  of fronts-from training of staff and public education efforts, to coordination  with sister agencies-to focus attention on the problems of sex-based wage  discrimination.

According  to its website, "PFERD Inc., the American subsidiary of August Ruggeberg  GmbH and Co. of Marienheide, Germany, a 212-year-old world leader in the design  and manufacture of abrasive tools, power brushes, maintenance brushes and power  tools, has completed its consolidation of all U.S. production and distribution  operations into a 100,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility located at 9201  Heather Avenue in Milwaukee, Wisconsin." 

The EEOC's Chicago District Office is  responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative  enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois,  Iowa, Minnesota,  North Dakota, South  Dakota, and Wisconsin, with area  offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.   The case will be litigated by attorneys in the Milwaukee Area Office.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting  discrimination in employment.  Further  information about the Commission is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.