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Pratt library lawyers ask for temporary stay in EEOC lawsuit

Lawyers for Baltimore city representing the Enoch Pratt Free Library in its defense against a pay discrimination lawsuit have asked a federal judge to stay proceedings until the U.S. Supreme Court decides whether to grant certiorari in a Ninth Circuit pay equity case, according to court filings.

The motion, filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore on Wednesday, asks Judge Catherine C. Blake to grant a temporary stay of discovery in the lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission until the Supreme Court decides whether it’s going to grant certiorari in Rizo v. Yovino, in which the federal appeals court held that past salary, either alone or in combination with other factors, cannot be used to justify a difference in wages between male and female employees.

In a lawsuit filed in September 2017, the EEOC alleged the Pratt violated federal law by paying female librarian supervisors lower wages than their male counterparts. The mayor and City Council are also named as defendants in the lawsuit.

In August, Blake denied the city’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

In its motion to dismiss, the city argued argued that the library paid a male librarian supervisor more than female employees with the same title because his job description included other responsibilities and his pay was commensurate with past experience, according to court filings.

But Blake disagreed, saying the city was “irresponsibly mischaracterizing” findings by the EEOC that the library took into consideration other salary offers the male employee received as well as his past salary. The EEOC was merely quoting the city’s argument, not asserting them as fact, Blake said.

“To be clear, the factors other than sex that were found by the EEOC to be pretext for sex discrimination encompass the matching of competitive salary offers,” Blake said.

The EEOC filed suit on behalf of Ann Marie Harvey, who began working as a librarian in the Neighborhood Library Services Division in 1997 and was promoted to supervisor position in 2002. In June 2015, the Pratt hired a male library supervisor who had previously been with the organization but had left to accept a job at the Cecil County library system. Before his resignation from the Pratt, he earned a lower annual salary than Harvey and other female librarians based on their respective years of service and experience, the lawsuit states.

The EEOC alleges the Pratt paid the rehired male employee $6,000 more than Harvey and between $1,000 and $6,000 more than four other female librarian supervisors who had more years of experience.

Lawyers for the city and the EEOC did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday.

The case is EEOC v. Enoch Pratt Free Library, et al., 1:17-cv-02860.


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