Pizza Studio Violated Federal Law by Offering Woman Less Pay Than a Man and Withdrawing Job Offer When She Complained
ST. LOUIS - A federal district judge in Kansas entered judgment today in favor the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in a lawsuit alleging violation of the Equal Pay Act. This federal law prohibits companies from paying women and men unequally and retaliating against those who complain about or support a claim of unequal pay.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. PS Holding LLC, Civil Action No. 2:17-cv-02513 CM-GEB), filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas in September 2017, two high school friends, Jensen Walcott and Jake Reed, applied to work at Pizza Studio as "pizza artists" in 2016. After both were interviewed and offered jobs, Walcott and Reed discussed their starting wages. Upon learning that Reed was offered 25¢ more per hour, Walcott called the restaurant to complain about the unequal pay. When she did so, the company immediately withdrew its offers of employment from both Walcott and Reed.
Federal District Judge Carlos Murguia's order awards both Walcott and Reed back pay for lost wages as well as liquidated, compensatory, and punitive damages. Although PS Holding LLC no longer operates a restaurant in Kansas City, Kan., it still owns and operates other Pizza Studio restaurants nationwide. Therefore, today's order also requires it to implement significant policy changes, conduct training, collect and analyze pay and other data, and report data and complaints to the EEOC, each in order to prevent future violations of the law.
"As this case against Pizza Studio demonstrates, the EEOC will thoroughly investigate and enforce this critical federal law," said EEOC St. Louis District Director James R. Neely, Jr. "It is particularly impressive that these younger workers had the courage to stand up and challenge what they saw as illegal treatment."
Andrea G. Baran, the EEOC's regional attorney in St. Louis, said, "Although there has been much in the news recently about sexual harassment in the workplace, unlawful sex discrimination takes many forms. Paying women less than men for equal work is not only illegal, it demeans female workers."
Compensation discrimination is one of six national enforcement priorities highlighted in the EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan, accessible at https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/plan/sep-2017.cfm.
The EEOC's Youth@Work website (at http://www.eeoc.gov/youth/) presents information for teens and other young workers about employment discrimination, including curriculum guides for students and teachers and videos to help young workers learn about their rights and responsibilities.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. The St. Louis District Office oversees Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and southern Illinois.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.