The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Highlights of Equal Pay Act Cases

From the EEOC's initial enforcement of the Equal Pay Act in 1979 through the end of May 2003, the Commission has filed approximately 364 lawsuits under the EPA and under EPA/Title VII alleging unlawful discrepancies in wages based on gender. The Commission has resolved 359 of these suits obtaining over $28 million in monetary relief for charging parties and securing significant injunctive and remedial relief. A sampling of settlements in EPA cases over the years is listed below. Statistics on EEOC litigation filings and resolutions during the 1990s is available at

In addition to monetary benefits and remedial relief obtained by EEOC through lawsuits, the agency also reaches many voluntary settlements with employers prior to the litigation stage - the specific details of which are confidential under the law. Several generic examples of key pre-litigation settlement are listed below. Statistics on EPA charge filings and pre-litigation resolutions in the 1990s are available at

Fiscal Year 2003

In an EPA/Title VII voluntary settlement (pre-litigation), a female charging party received $200,000. In this case, a woman was paid less than comparable males with similar experience levels, even though she was performing substantially similar work that involved the same effort, skill, and responsibility. When the woman questioned the disparity in pay between herself and the male co-workers, she was given gender-related explanations and the employer refused to increase her wages to equal that of the male co-workers.

In this EPA case, the EEOC reached a $120,000 settlement for one female employee who worked for Phoenix Management Limited Company. The lawsuit charged the employer with paying its female controller less than the men who held the position before and after her. The company provides management and financial services for a number of retail stores.

In this EPA/Title VII case in the manufacturing industry, EEOC v. Bass Cabinet Manufacturing, Inc., the Commission alleged that Bass paid a female employee at rates less than the rates it paid male employees performing substantially equal work on the job. When the female employee was terminated, after 12 years of working for the company, she was one of four assistant foremen in the Face Frame Department. EEOC settled the case for $25,000 for the charging party.

In this EPA/Title VII case against Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc., EEOC charged that a Level IV female estimator for the company, who had been promoted several times, was paid less than the company's male estimators with similar experience levels - even though the female estimator was performing substantially similar work that involved the same effort, skill, and responsibility. When the female employee questioned the disparity in pay between herself and the male estimators, she was given gender-related explanations and the company refused to increase her wage to equal that of its male estimators. The case is pending in federal district court.

Fiscal Year 2002

In a Title VII and EPA case resolution (pre-litigation), 25 women received over $4.5 million. This class case included an EPA allegation of unequal wages because of sex (female), in addition to Title VII allegations of denial of promotion because of sex (female) and unequal wages because of sex (female). More specifically, the charging parties alleged a denial of promotional opportunities for women in engineering positions and lower wages than men who performed the same or less professionally demanding work.

In this EPA case, EEOC filed suit against American Superior Feeds, Inc., doing business as Bluebonnet Milling Company for failing or refusing to pay a female transportation manager wages equal to males. The suit claims that Bluebonnet - which produces and markets feed for livestock, pets, birds and other animals - paid the manager at one of its facilities much less than male employees who performed the same job. The manager complained when Bluebonnet failed to pay her what the men had earned, but her complaints went unheeded by the company. The case is pending in federal district court.

Fiscal Year 2001

In an EEOC lawsuit under EPA and Title VII, a federal jury awarded $2.2 million to a former employee of Outback Steakhouse who alleged that the restaurant chain discriminated against her by paying a male counterpart a significantly larger salary and then firing her after she complained. Following four days of trial, the jury deliberated about five hours before awarding the female plaintiff $27,000 for the difference in earnings, $36,800 in back pay, $50,000 in compensatory damages for emotional pain and suffering, and $2.1 million in punitive damages.

In an EPA/Title VII case in the trucking industry, EEOC v. Swift Transportation Co., the Commission alleged that the truck carrier paid female driver managers less than male driver managers performing substantially equal work. Six women shared in the monetary recovery of $450,000, which consisted of $80,307 in back pay and nearly $370,000 in damages. Additionally, the company raised the salaries of the four remaining female driver managers to amounts earned by comparable male driver managers.

Even at the vice president level, women are sometimes paid less than similarly-situated male vice presidents. In EEOC v. Aames Financial Corp., the company agreed to provide one female vice president with $100,000 in monetary relief and a second female vice president with $10,000. Another three women settled their claims with the company separately.

EEOC v. Kettering University - The EEOC charged that Kettering University discriminated against a former Professor of Communications with respect to her compensation, terms, conditions, and privileges of employment - paying her at a rate less than that of comparable male Associate Professors within the same department, a rank that is below that of a Full Professor with a Ph.D. The suit is pending in federal district court.

Fiscal Year 2000

EEOC v. Eastern Michigan University - The Commission alleged that defendant university paid charging party a lower salary in assistant and associate professor positions in its industrial technology department than salaries paid to male instructors and assistant professors in the department whose work involved skill, effort, and responsibility substantially equal to that of charging party's. The university agreed to raise charging party's annual salary from $48,473 to $52,551, an amount equal to the salary of the highest paid male professor in the department, and to provide her with $45,400 in back pay and $4,600 in retirement benefits. The consent decree also acknowledged that defendant agreed to pay charging party $50,000 to resolve a related claim.

EEOC v. Petco Animal Supplies, Inc. - This EPA/Title VII action alleged that defendant failed to pay female store managers at wage rates equal to similarly situated male store managers. The case was resolved through a consent decree providing a total of $41,024 (half back pay and half liquidated damages) to five individuals, and attorneys' fees to charging party. Defendant also agreed to revise its compensation criteria to include more objective factors.

Fiscal Year 1999

EEOC v. R. E. Michel Company, Inc. - This EPA/Title VII case alleged that the company, a wholesaler of heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment, paid its only female purchasing agent less than it paid its male purchasing agents and discharged her in retaliation for complaining about the unequal pay. The suit was resolved by consent decree providing the female purchasing agent with $200,000 and permanently enjoining the company from engaging in sex discrimination and retaliation under Title VII and the Equal Pay Act.

Fiscal Year 1998

EEOC v. Frederick Transport, Inc. and GJHSRT, Inc. - The Commission alleged that defendant discriminated against charging party by paying her less than a male counterpart because of her sex (female) and that defendant denied charging party a promotion and discharged her because she filed a charge of discrimination. This Title VII and EPA case was resolved by a consent decree providing $70,000 to charging party, consisting of $35,000 in back pay and $35,000 in punitive damages.

EEOC v. St. Paul Metalcraft, Inc. - This EPA/Title VII case alleged that the company paid female machine operators a lower hourly rate than the rate paid to male machine operators for substantially equal work. The suit also claimed that the company provided less favorable training and assignments to women because of their sex. The Commission resolved this case through a consent decree providing 10 claimants a total of $73,684 in back pay and interest. The decree also required the defendant to increase the wages of the ten claimants and eliminate any disparity with comparable men and offer training in handling machinery such as forklifts to employees who had not received such training.

Fiscal Year 1997

EEOC, et al. v. NYNEX Meridian Systems, Inc. - Resolved by a consent decree, this EPA/Title VII suit alleged that the defendant had reduced the charging party's salary because of her sex while assigning her substantially similar responsibilities to those performed by higher paid male employees. The charging party received $95,000 in back pay and attorneys' fees.

EEOC, et al. v. McDonnell Douglas Travel Co. - This suit, filed under both Title VII and the EPA, alleged that the travel company paid a female manager of operations administration less because of her sex than it paid males who preceded and succeeded her, and further that the company replaced her with a male following a reduction-in-force. The case was resolved by a settlement agreement that provided the female manager with $95,000 in back pay, compensatory damages, and attorneys' fees.

Fiscal Year 1996

EEOC v. Penn Corp. - This individual Title VII sex (female) and EPA case was resolved by a settlement agreement, providing $20,000 in nonpecuniary compensatory damages. The complaint had alleged that the defendant violated Title VII and the EPA by paying the charging party, a production supervisor, less than three men it later hired as production supervisors.

EEOC v. Chesapeake Operating Company, Inc. and Sander's Trucking Co., Inc. - This EPA and Title VII case was resolved by a settlement agreement providing $43,000 in damages for two individuals. The complaint alleged that females who worked as dispatchers were paid less than the men.

Fiscal Year 1995

EEOC v. Marinette County Sheriff's Dept. - A consent decree resolved this EPA claim that defendant paid women county jail guards less than male jail guards doing equal work. Defendant agreed to pay a total of $160,000 in back pay and liquidated damages to 10 individuals.

Fiscal Year 1994

After an 11-day trial, the EEOC won a jury verdict in the case of EEOC v. Attorney's Title Insurance Fund, Inc., which alleged that the defendant had violated the EPA and Title VII by paying its six female marketing representatives less than males performing the same work. The jury returned a verdict for both the Commission and the private plaintiffs on the EPA wage claims and for two of the private plaintiffs on their retaliatory discharge claims. Relief for the Commission on the wage claims was approximately $41,000, and for the private plaintiffs, on all claims, was approximately $450,000.

EEOC v. Atlantic City Health Department, et al. - The EEOC successfully obtained both a settlement agreement and a court order enforcing that agreement in another case alleging EPA violations. According to the complaint, the defendant paid the charging party less than her male predecessor because of her sex. Pursuant to the settlement agreement and the enforcement order, the charging party recovered $40,000 in back pay from the EPA claims asserted by the Commission and another $175,000 in monetary relief as the result of her other private claims.

EEOC v. Addington, Inc. - The Commission alleged that the defendant discriminated against the charging party because of her sex by paying her lower wages than male employees performing equal work. This EPA and Title VII case was resolved by a consent decree that required the defendant to set wages using sex neutral criteria and to report on the implementation of the neutral criteria every six months for three years. In addition, the defendant paid the charging party $35,000 in damages, representing the difference between her wages and those of males performing the same job.

Fiscal Year 1993

EEOC v. Associated Grocers, Inc. & Teamsters Local # 117 - An EPA and Title VII case involving claims on behalf of a class of women challenging disparity in wages resulting from discriminatory terms in a collective bargaining agreement. The consent decree resolving the suit eliminated the discriminatory provisions and, among other things, provided $235,000 in back pay for 50 class members.

EEOC v. Cherry-Burrell Corp. - An EPA/Title VII suit alleged that a woman was paid less than men performing substantially equal work, was denied a promotion to a buyer position because of her gender, and was laid off in retaliation for filing a charge of discrimination. After a bench trial, the court found in the Commission's favor on the wage and promotion claims and awarded the charging party $106,722 in back pay and interest.

EEOC v. Tree of Life Christian Schools - The court found that the schools' practice of paying a family allowance to its male employees while denying this allowance to similarly-situated women employees violated the EPA. The parties resolved the monetary issues through a consent decree that required the schools to pay almost $100,000 to the 19 class members. The schools also agreed to apply the "head-of-household" allowance criteria to its female employees.

Fiscal Year 1992

EEOC v. Town of Tangier Island and EEOC v. Town of Baldwin - Both cases involved allegations that the towns paid female law enforcement officers less than similarly-situated men. In each case, the female law enforcement officers received back pay.

EEOC v. First Baptist Church d/b/a First Baptist Christian School - The Commission won summary judgment on the issue of liability. The court determined that the defendant violated the EPA by paying higher wages and benefits to its male teachers than to its female teachers. The court further found that the defendant's elimination of its "head-of-household" allowance, which had been paid only to male teachers, did not cure the wage element of its EPA violation. The parties resolved the monetary issues through a settlement agreement providing $80,000 in monetary relief to the female teachers.

Fiscal Year 1991

EEOC v. Suburban Baptist Church d/b/a Suburban Baptist Schools - An EPA/Title VII suit, challenged the defendant's practice of paying a "head-of-household" allowance to male teachers while paying either no allowance or a smaller one to its female teachers. The parties settled the suit for $48,000 in monetary relief for the female teachers.

Fiscal Year 1990

EEOC v. Saginaw Community Hospital - The EEOC alleged that the hospital violated the EPA by paying women less than men for substantially equal work. The parties resolved the suit through a settlement agreement providing $524,948 in monetary relief for over 200 individuals.

Fiscal Year 1989

EEOC v. City of Detroit - The EEOC claimed that the city paid female employees less than similarly-situated males in violation of the EPA. A total of $255,276 in monetary relief was obtained for eight women.

EEOC v. Harper Grace Hospitals - The EEOC alleged that the defendants discriminated against women in the payment of benefits, in violation of the EPA. Back pay in the amount of $398,562 was obtained for 200 women.

Fiscal Year 1988

EEOC v. City of Colorado Springs - Through a stipulated order, damages totaling $761,455were obtained for 40 class members in this EPA/Title VII case. The suit charged that women working as civilian police dispatchers were paid less than male officers in the same position.

EEOC v. Shelby County Court - This class EPA suit was resolved by order of the court for backpay in the amount of $445,000 for 14 women after a trial on the merits.

EEOC v. North Charles General Hospital - This EPA/Title VII suit was resolved for $120,000 in backpay for one woman who was discriminated against on the basis of sex in promotion, discharges, and terms and conditions of employment.

Fiscal Year 1987

EEOC v. Allen County Sheriff Dept. - EEOC obtained a consent order for $170,000 for nine women who were discriminated against on the basis of sex in wages.

EEOC v. Allstate - This EPA/Title VII suit alleging discrimination on the basis of sex in the payment of wages was resolved for $101,190 for 107 women.

EEOC v. S.M.R. Foods - This class suit alleged discrimination on the basis of equal pay in wages and other terms and conditions of employment. The case was resolved by consent decree which provided and injunction as well as notice on the EPA.

Fiscal Year 1986

EEOC v. Troy State University - EEOC obtained $199,000 in backpay for female faculty members who were paid less than male faculty members for performing jobs requiring equal skill, effort, and responsibility. A major issue in the case was whether various campuses at this university were part of the same establishment.

EEOC v. University of Illinois - EEOC obtained $100,000 and other relief valued at $22,474 for two female assistant professors who were discriminated against in pay, tenure, and promotions to associate professor.

Fiscal Year 1985

EEOC v. Justin McCarthy, et al. - The district court entered judgment for the EEOC in a suit brought on behalf of the female faculty of Framingham State College who were paid less than similarly qualified men.

EEOC v. Georgia Southwestern College - The Eleventh Circuit upheld in substantial part a ruling in favor of the Commission that Georgia Southwestern College violated the EPA by paying female faculty members less than male comparators who performed substantially equal work.

Fiscal Year 1984

EEOC v. Allstate Insurance - A consent decree for $5 million plus injunctive relief was awarded to approximately 3,200 beneficiaries. The issues in the case were whether Allstate was paying a lower "guarantee" (minimum salary) to females than males for performing identical jobs and whether a person's prior salary constituted a valid "factor other than sex" within the meaning of the EPA.

EEOC v. County of Erie - A backpay award of $500,000 was provided to female cleaners who were paid less than male employees performing the same job.

Fiscal Year 1983

EEOC v. E.J. Meyer Memorial Hospital - Following judgment in the Commission's favor in late FY 1982, a court awarded $749,343 in backpay for housekeeping cleaners who were predominantly female and who were paid less than predominantly male housekeeping laborers performing substantially equal duties.

EEOC v. Liggett & Meyers, Inc. - A $440,000 judgment was entered in this case following a court's decision adopting the EEOC's position on the calculation of backpay. In 1982, the Fourth Circuit sustained the lower court's ruling that the defendant willfully violated the EPA by paying female supervisory and clerical workers lower wages than men performing substantially equal work.

EEOC v. University of Texas at El Paso - This suit was filed shortly after the extension of EPA in 1972 to professional, executive, and administrative employees and involved the payment of lower salaries to female faculty members. The EEOC obtained a consent decree providing $100,00 in backpay for 51 female employees.

Fiscal Year 1982

EEOC v. Indian River Transport Company - The Commission's right to demand a jury trial in an EPA case was upheld by the court.

EEOC v. State of Rhode Island - Female cleaners at the University of Rhode Island were found by the court to be performing janitorial duties requiring the same skill, effort, and responsibility as the male janitors.

EEOC v. Gibson Products, Inc. - A court found that work of female heads of departments in a discount department store were equal in skill, effort, and responsibility to work of the male heads of departments.

Fiscal Year 1981

EEOC v. Samuel Schlesinger - In this EPA case, following a trial on the merit, the plaintiffs were awarded $100,000 in backpay. The suit charged that a specialty clothing store paid its female salespersons less than it paid male salespersons for substantially equal work in its boys and furnishing departments.

EEOC v. McNeese State University - The EEOC filed suit alleging that McNeese discriminated against its female faculty members in violation of the EPA. The Commission successfully negotiated a settlement on behalf of 31 women, including the equalization of salaries and backpay.

Fiscal Year 1980

In the first full year that EEOC had jurisdiction over the EPA, the Commission filed 79 EPA lawsuits and several EPA/Title VII suits, including several against Sears, Roebuck and Company.

This page was last modified on June 10, 2003.

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