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PRESS RELEASE
9-3-13

Worcester County Will Pay $60,000 to Resolve EEOC Pay Discrimination Lawsuit

Female Liquor Store Clerks Were Paid Less than Male Coworkers, Federal Agency Charged

BALTIMORE - Worcester County, Md., will pay $60,000 and furnish significant equitable relief to resolve a pay discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Worcester County Liquor Control Board (LCB) paid Donna Smith, Kylesha Conner and Sharee Dale less wages than male retail clerks, even though they were doing substantially equal work under similar working conditions.  When the state of Maryland abolished the LCB, the state transferred the assets and liabilities to Worcester County, including liabilities for violations of the Equal Pay Act, the EEOC charged.

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) prohibits discrimination in compensation based on sex.  The EEOC first attempted to reach a pre-litigation settlement before filing suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Northern Division (EEOC v. County Commissioners of Worcester County, Maryland, Civil Action No. 2:12-CV-02595).

In addition to the $60,000 in monetary relief to Smith, Conner and Dale, the three-year consent decree resolving the lawsuit contains important remedial relief, including prohibiting Worcester County from future discrimination on the basis of sex with respect to wages.  The county will offer Dale full-time employment the next time a position becomes available, subject to the recall rights of other employers who may be laid off.  Worcester County will provide training on preventing employment discrimination, with a special emphasis on preventing sex-based pay discrimination.   The county will also report to the EEOC on its handling of all complaints of wage discrimination and post a remedial notice.     

"The law requires equal pay for equal work," said Spencer H. Lewis, Jr., district director of the EEOC's Philadelphia District Office.  "The EEOC will take vigorous action to enforce the EPA when an employer fails to pay female employees the equal wages they deserve." 

EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, "This case is another example of EEOC's efforts to remedy pay discrimination in the workplace.  We are pleased that Worcester County worked with us to reach a settlement that not only pays the female clerks their lost wages, but also ensures that women will not be paid less based on their gender." 

Enforcement of equal pay laws and targeting compensation systems and practices that discriminate based on gender is one of six national priorities identified by the EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP). 

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.  Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.  The Philadelphia District Office of the EEOC oversees Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio.