Remedy The Inequity First To Limit Equal Pay Liability Exposure

Written exclusively for My Community Workplace for Government

The city of Baltimore announced a settlement in a lawsuit filed by a former city employee who claimed her salary was lower than her male counterparts.

According to the allegations, the woman received a promotion with a promised salary that "well exceeded" the maximum 10 percent increase stipulated by city policy. This resulted in a dispute about the salary amount. Although the plaintiff worked in the promoted position, her salary level never increased during the dispute, not even by the allowed 10 percent. Further complicating the matter, the chief of staff who promoted her resigned during this time.

City officials admitted that the department's HR representative did not follow city policy and failed to either submit the proper promotion paperwork or follow the required procedure when a salary request exceeds the 10 percent maximum. The city attorney acknowledged that the parties involved should have concluded any deliberation about salary prior to starting the job.

As part of the settlement, the city will pay the former employee $158,298. Emily Opilo "Baltimore settles employment lawsuit for $158,000+, admits breaking city policy with promotion" (Jul. 28, 2021).

Commentary and Checklist

In the above matter, it appears that red tape prevented the city from doing what it should have done on the first day…paying the complainant the same as her male colleagues.

Having written policies is the first step for managing such risks; however, those policies must be followed. The failure of management personnel to pay the complainant equally, in the beginning, was the first mistake.

The following suggestions can help an employer improve adherence to all workplace policies:

  • Make sure your policies and procedures are formerly written down and accessible to all management and employees.
  • Provide information about workplace policies via both physical and digital formats, and in all languages spoken in your workplace.
  • In your training, be sure management understands the "why" behind your policies and procedures. It may help to present scenarios that demonstrate the potential harm that can result from a failure to comply.
  • Recognize those employees who consistently follow workplace procedures and take disciplinary steps against those who do not.
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