Oil Company Paid Female Employee Less Than Male Predecessor, Federal Agency Charges
CLEVELAND - SOCI Petroleum/Santmyer Oil Company, Inc., (SOCI), a leading oil company, violated federal equal pay laws by paying a female employee less than a male predecessor for performing substantially equal work, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed on September 30, 2015.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, SOCI hired Lori Bowersock in 2006 to perform human resources work at the company's facility in Wooster, Ohio. At the time, a male was functioning as the company's human resources manager but after his employment ended in 2009, Bowersock assumed his function and began performing the human resources management work. The EEOC alleges that SOCI was biased against females and that the company tolerated the use of derogatory sex-based remarks to refer to females and devalued the accomplishments and capacity of female employees, as compared to that of males. The company paid Bowersock lower compensation than it paid to the male predecessor, according to the complaint.
Such alleged conduct violates the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. SOCI Petroleum/Santmyer Oil Company, Inc., Case No. 5:15-cv-02017-SL), in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio Eastern Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its administrative conciliation process. EEOC is seeking permanent injunctive relief prohibiting SOCI from discriminating by providing unequal pay to females for performing equal work, access to equal employment opportunities for women, lost wages, compensatory and punitive damages and other relief.
"Although we have made great strides in narrowing the wage gap between men and women, this case demonstrates pay discrimination remains a serious problem in the workplace. A female's pay should be commensurate with her skills and experience, not by her sex," said District Director Spencer H. Lewis, Jr. of EEOC's Philadelphia District Office.
EEOC Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence said, "It is disturbing that some employers continue paying women less than men for equal work simply because of their gender and EEOC will take vigorous action to remedy sex-based wage discrimination."
EEOC Philadelphia District Office has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. The legal staff of EEOC also prosecutes discrimination cases in Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia.
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.