Companies face lawsuits for gender-based pay discrimination

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UNC Health Care has recently announced a partnership with the Carolinas HealthCare System, which is facing a lawsuit for gender-based pay discrimination.

Three female physicians filed a lawsuit against the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority and Carolinas HealthCare System on the grounds that the companies violated the Equal Pay Act of 1963. 

The plaintiffs, from Cabarrus County said they were paid substantially less than their male colleagues despite having the same position and qualifications. 

The women are seeking actual, compensatory, liquidated, statutory and punitive damages, attorneys’ fees and costs and all damages provided for or permitted under any applicable statute or law.  

According to the lawsuit — filed Sept.11— there is no justification for the earnings disparity. All plaintiffs maintained the proper licenses during their time in Carolinas HealthCare System and they exceeded the expectations of their positions. Despite this, they received lower salaries than their male coworker did.

The plaintiffs repeatedly brought their grievances to the attention of their employers but neither Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority nor CHS took any action to remedy the situation, according to the lawsuit. 

CHS said in a statement that it has looked into the claims and found they are not valid. 

"Carolinas HealthCare System is consistently committed to fair and equitable compensation for all of our teammates, and we abide by all state and federal employment laws,” the statement said. 

Teri Porter, a spokesperson for CHS, said she doesn't expect the lawsuit will have any impact on the company's work toward a partnership with UNC Health Care.

According to a 2017 physician salary survey conducted by Medscape, male primary care physicians reported earning an annual salary of $229,000 while female physicians reported earning a salary of just $197,000.

Google is also facing a lawsuit filed on Thursday by three women accusing the company of gender-based pay discrimination.

According to the lawsuit, Google pays its female employees lower compensation than it pays its male employees who perform substantially similar work under similar working conditions.

According to the American Association of University Women, thousands of sex discrimination cases are filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission each year. 

The AAUW found women working full time were paid 80 percent of what their male coworkers were paid in 2015.

Disparities in earnings have a larger impact today than in the past due to the increasing role of women as breadwinners within the family. The amount of women contributing a quarter of the family’s earning was up from 28 percent to 63 percent between 1967 and 2012, according to the AAUW. 

Jessica Schieder, a research assistant at the Economic Policy Institute, said the wage gap in the market is a phenomenon that began long before women entered the work force. 

“A lot of it comes down to societal norms, where expectations of men and women are different,” she said.

Schieder said most often these disparities in pay are associated with the different directions in which boys and girls were pushed throughout their educations.

Schieder said persisting societal norms also affect the behaviors of women. 

“Even among couples where they’re both parents and working full time, the woman is still more likely to spend twice as much time on average doing caring activities at home,” she said.

According to the AAUW's Behind the Pay Gap report, 23 percent of mothers were out of the workforce 10 years after graduation, compared to approximately 1 percent of fathers.

Schieder said there are a few possible solutions for closing the wage gap, like raising the minimum wage or increasing transparency.

"Minimum wage workers are disproportionately women," she said. "You can talk about increasing wage transparency in the workplace so that women are aware of when wage discrimination is occurring and can potentially take action and take advantage of the legal protections that we afford workers to file discrimination complaints.”

@annapogostick

state@dailytarheel.com

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