TALLAHASSEE, FL. A Florida state-court jury yesterday awarded Jim Garrity’s client $263,000, after she was fired for complaining that her male colleagues were being paid more for the same work.
Garrity was lead trial counsel in the five-day jury trial.
The employee began working for the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) when she was just 20 years old. At the time of her firing 28 years later, she had risen to the chief of the agency’s statewide operations over gambling operations (horse racing, dog racing, slot machines, poker rooms and jai alai.) When she was first promoted to the top position, she learned from seeing an old paystub that the man who last held her position was paid substantially more than her for fewer duties. She then discovered that other male colleagues were abeing paid more than her. Even a man in a lower position, that actually reported to her, was earning more than her.
To remedy this unfairness, she filed a claim for gender discrimination under the Equal Pay Act, a federal law that requires women to be paid the same as men for comparable work and duties.
Not long after her first court case was over, she alleged, agency officials began to distance themselves from her and, several months later, fired her for what she alleged was a made up-reason. An internal memo Garrity discovered, and that was earlier written by one of DBPR’s own lawyers, documented the firing and specifically mentioned her prior lawsuit, mocking the employee for asking to be paid the same as men.
The all-female jury swiftly returned a verdict in favor of Garrity’s client. Because the case was subject to a law that limited the agency’s liability to $200,000, Garrity asked the jury to award an amount at the legal maximum. Even so, the jury seemed so persuaded by the evidence that it awarded even more than he asked for, thus raising the award above the legal maximum by $63,000.00, and resulting in the $263,000 verdict.
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