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Two Texas state agencies violated Title VII by paying women substantially less than male employees in comparable positions, DOJ alleges; EEOC also filed EPA suit

In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in the Western District of Texas, the U.S. Justice Department alleges that the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) and Texas General Land Office (GLO) violated Title VII by discriminating against three female employees at Texas Department of Rural Affairs (TDRA). The lawsuit, filed on July 11, alleges that the TDA and GLO, both of which assumed responsibilities of the now defunct TDRA, discriminated against three women in Program Specialist VII positions by paying them significantly less than their male colleagues for performing substantially the same work.

According to the complaint, the TDRA analyzed the salaries of all Program Specialist VIIs in the Disaster Recovery Division, found that the salaries of the women fell significantly short of those of men in comparable positions, and raised the women’s salaries. However, after the TDRA concluded that pay disparities existed between men and women, it did not raise women’s salaries to be comparable to the wages made by their male counterparts, nor did it compensate the women for the substantial amount of time their salaries were undervalued.

The suit also alleges that the women were subject to retaliation through the agency’s termination of their employment as an outgrowth of their claims of sex discrimination in compensation.

The complaint seeks declaratory and injunctive relief requiring the TDA and GLO to ensure that policies are in place to prevent their employees from being subjected to discrimination and retaliation, as well as monetary damages for the total time the women’s salaries were undervalued, both after the raise and throughout the entire time of the women’s employment in the Program Specialist VII position.

The EEOC has also filed a lawsuit against the TDA and GLO alleging violations of the Equal Pay Act. The department will collaborate with the EEOC in seeking remedies.

“This lawsuit highlights the critical need for continued attention to equal pay issues in this country,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, in a statement. “The wage gap between women and men persists, and the Civil Rights Division is committed to using all the tools available under this nation’s employment discrimination laws to ensure equal pay for equal work. We are pleased to collaborate with the EEOC in this critical enforcement effort.”