A federal agency has sued Jerry’s Chevrolet Inc., alleging the Baltimore County auto dealership paid a female dispatcher lower wages than a male dispatcher and fired the employee after she complained.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said it filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Baltimore after first attempting to reach a settlement.
“Female workers in all industries deserve equal pay for equal work,” Debra Lawrence, EEOC Philadelphia regional attorney, said in the announcement Monday. “Workers have the right to ask about perceived pay discrimination without being fired as a result.”
A representative of Jerry’s, located on East Joppa Road, did not respond to a request for comment.
The lawsuit alleges that Jerry’s paid lower wages to a female warehouse dispatcher than to a male warehouse dispatcher, even though the woman had more seniority by about six months. The female dispatcher discovered the pay disparity last September and complained to the director of human resources, requesting higher pay, according to the lawsuit.
The director said he “would look into it,” the lawsuit alleges, but instead he fired her a week later for making an inappropriate joke. When the female dispatcher complained that another employee had been written up, not fired, a few weeks earlier after viewing pornography at his desk, she was told, “that’s different,” the lawsuit says.
The employee was fired in retaliation for her complaint, the EEOC alleges in the lawsuit, which would violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act of 1963. Employees must be paid equal wage rates for the same work regardless of sex under federal law.
The EEOC said it is seeking back pay, liquidated damages, compensatory damages, punitive damages and injunctive relief to prevent future wage discrimination against women.