U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Ohio Oil Companies Discriminated Against Female Employee By Paying Her Less Than Male Predecessor, Federal Agency Charged
CLEVELAND - Wooster, Ohio-based SOCI Petroleum, Inc. and Santmyer Oil Company, Inc. (collectively referred to as SOCI) will pay $50,000 and provide significant relief to settle a federal sex-based pay discrimination lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today.
According to EEOC's lawsuit, SOCI hired Lori Bowersock in 2006 to perform human resources work, and, in 2009, Bowersock assumed the human resources manager role for SOCI after her male predecessor's employment ended. At that time, SOCI's executives and management personnel held Bowersock out to employees and others as the companies' human resources manager, EEOC alleged. Although Bowersock performed substantially equal work to that performed by her male predecessor, she was paid less than him, EEOC said. The agency also alleged that SOCI was biased against females and permitted them to be subjected to derogatory sex-based comments in the workplace.
Such alleged conduct violates the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. SOCI Petroleum/Santmyer Oil Company, Inc., Case No. 5:15-cv-02017-SL) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to the monetary relief, the consent decree settling the suit also provides for training for all SOCI employees and supervisory, management and human resources personnel regarding employee rights and employer obligations under the EPA and Title VII, and requires the companies to post a notice about the settlement at all company facilities. The decree further requires the creation and implementation of a policy prohibiting sex-based discrimination in compensation, record-keeping relating to employee pay and complaints of discrimination, and regular reporting to EEOC during the decree's two-year term.
"This settlement should remind all employers that the law absolutely prohibits paying female employees less than males for performing the same job duties," said District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr. of EEOC's Philadelphia District Office. "This practice has been against federal law for 53 years, and there is no excuse or justification for it. EEOC will continue to enforce equal pay laws."
EEOC Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence added, "We are proud to announce this settlement, which provides for both monetary compensation for Ms. Bowersock and injunctive relief designed to prevent this from happening to female employees in the future."
EEOC Philadelphia District Office has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio.
Enforcement of equal pay laws and targeting compensation systems and practices that discriminate based on gender is of one of six national priorities identified by the Commission's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).
EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the commission is available at its website, www.eeoc.gov.