Maryland HVAC contractor settles equal-pay suit for $210K

Dive Brief:

  • A Clinton, Maryland-based HVAC contractor has settled an equal-pay discrimination suit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for $210,000, the agency announced May 9
  • Mechanical Design Systems will pay the settlement amount to two former women project managers who allegedly received less compensation than men in the same role, while also increasing the pay of a current woman employee to match the level of a man who is her counterpart. 
  • Per the consent decree that settled the suit, MDS must also take affirmative steps to prevent pay discrimination in the future. This includes implementation of enhanced compensation and discrimination policies, training for human resources and management officials involved in compensation decisions and notices to employees about their rights.

Dive Insight:

MDS did not respond to requests for comment. 

According to EEOC’s lawsuit, women project managers were paid less than men to perform equal work and, in many instances, the women were called upon to perform additional work or duties. The women project managers were paid significantly less, despite having more experience and seniority in the position and satisfactorily performing their duties, the EEOC said. 

Pay differences included a man being paid $111,000 annually as a project manager, while a woman earned just $55,000 for similar duties, according to the suit. 

Debra M. Lawrence, the EEOC’s Philadelphia regional attorney, said the outcome illustrated the agency’s goals for eliminating discrimination in the workplace. 

“Ensuring equal pay for equal work remains a priority for the EEOC,” said Lawrence. “We are pleased MDS worked cooperatively with the EEOC to resolve this matter and has agreed to proactive steps to prevent pay discrimination in its workplace.” 

The EEOC has made a point of singling out construction for both racial and sexual discrimination. In its recently updated Strategic Enforcement Plan, which lays out its roadmap for the next five years, the agency called out construction by name as an industry of particular concern. 

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