Over the summer, Animal Care Services employees Christine Peden and Jeanne Martinez filed a complaint against the City after they discovered that they were paid less than their male coworkers for the same position as operations managers. In early October, a third female employee, Brenda Werts, who at the time worked in the Capital Improvements Management Services department, joined the federal lawsuit alleging pay discrimination and violation of the federal Equal Pay Act. Peden and Martinez also allege that the City retaliated against them after they voiced their concerns.
The EEOC, a federal agency responsible for investigating pay and employment discrimination, recently backed up the women, determining that the City did discriminate against them based on their sex. The EEOC also found that the City violated the Equal Pay Act when department officials sent the women "counseling letters" for speaking out against the pay disparities. The EEOC is now facilitating what's called "conciliation" between the women and the City to reach a settlement.
The federal lawsuit, which alleges that the City fired Martinez and demoted Peden, is proceeding separately. Lawrence Morales II, a local lawyer representing Peden, Martinez and Werts in the lawsuit, said they are currently in the process of collecting evidence and documents related to the case. Mediation efforts so far have been unsuccessful, Morales said.
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