A blockbuster federal lawsuit filed by Jim Garrity alleges that the Florida Department of Health (DOH) refused to properly raise a black female employee’s pay even while it freely did so for white employees. The discrimination was so obvious and outrageous that a white senior human resource official filed his own complaint that she was being discriminated against.
The case goes before a jury on June 17, 2019 and is expected to last four days.
Our client has four college degrees, including two Master’s degrees. She has deep experience in state government. During her tenure at DOH, she scored perfect 5.0’s in every evaluation she received, which is nearly unheard of. She also had a spotless disciplinary record, got along with everyone, and worked tirelessly. When coworkers left or retired, she took on their heavy workloads and still performed flawlessly.
State agency rules provide for “temporary additive pay” when an employee takes on extra work for extended periods. Our client respectfully requested these temporary pay bumps on several occasions, but was rejected every time and given preposterous explanations for the rejections. Records unearthed by Jim Garrity revealed numerous white employees, however, who not only got these pay bumps (often without even asking), but who were allowed to keep the temporary pay increase even when the extra work ended. In effect, those white employees got permanent “off the record” pay hikes this way. Our client was also treated worse than white employees generally when it came to general pay raises, and, further, in getting DOH to match competing job offers.
The case shows how racism directly affects compensation.
How Employers Commit Pay Discrimination (And How We Find It)
It’s common to think of pay discrimination as limited to starting salaries and annual pay increases. But it goes far deeper. Pay discrimination include anything of value given to employees. The term encompasses all forms of compensation, including (1) wages, (2) salaries, (3) fringe benefits, (4) overtime pay (5) bonuses, (6) vacation or holiday pay (7) cleaning or gasoline allowances (8) hotel accommodations, (9) the use of company cars, (10) medical, hospital, accident, and life insurance, (11) retirement benefits (12) stock options (13) profit sharing plans (14) temporary pay increases for extra work, (15) matching offer payments, (16) reimbursement for travel expenses, (17) expense accounts and benefits, and many more.
Other illegal practices that affect pay include discriminatory promotion decisions, performance appraisals, procedures for assigning work, or training opportunities, or even an employer practice of steering protected class members into low paying jobs or limiting their opportunity to transfer to better jobs.
When a potential client comes to us about possible pay discrimination, we use all available information to evaluate the case. For public-sector employees, we use public-records or open-records requests to ask for pay records for all employees in a unit. We ask for everyone’s pay histories so the employer does not prematurely discover which employee contacted us. We may also use sophisticated statistical analysis to identify discriminatory patterns. If a lawsuit is filed, we ask for all lost wages (past, present and future), pain and suffering damages, punitive damages, permanent injunctions to halt further discrimination, promotions where justified, attorneys fees, costs and several other forms of relief.