Workers in California and across the United States are supposed to receive equal pay for equal amounts of work. Unfortunately, many employers fail to adhere to this requirement. For example, on Sept. 28, a Black woman filed a federal lawsuit against Kitsap Mental Health Services in Washington, alleging that the agency pays her less than her white male co-worker for doing the same custodial job.
According to the lawsuit, the woman began working for the agency in April 2018 at a pay rate of $13.50 per hour, which is Washington’s minimum wage. The suit claims that she asked for a raise multiple times over the course of her employment, but the agency kept her at minimum wage due to her limited prior work history. The lawsuit further claims that a white man doing custodial work for the agency receives a higher wage than she does.
Court documents note that the agency recently sent an email to workers pledging to review the salaries of employees of color to rectify any instances of systemic discrimination in its compensation structure. However, the woman says she never received the email and only found out about it through a co-worker. She also claims that she asked her supervisors to review her salary based on the promises in the email, but she never received confirmation that her wages would be reviewed. She is suing the agency for race and gender discrimination under the U.S. Equal Pay Act and Washington’s Equal Pay and Opportunities Act.
Legal aid for employees
Employees who experience workplace discrimination may find relief by contacting an employment attorney. Depending on the circumstances of the case, it may be possible to file a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and obtain a settlement for damages.