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MIA settles pay discrimination suit with EEOC

After nearly four years of litigation, including a trip to the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Maryland Insurance Administration has settled a lawsuit filed by a federal agency alleging gender-based pay discrimination.

According to online court records, the insurance administration will pay close to $37,000 to settle claims that it discriminated against three female investigators by paying them less than their male counterparts.

As part of the consent decree entered on Friday, the agency will also make sure that its wage-setting practices comply with the Equal Pay Act of 1963, are put in writing and set specific factors for compensation. The EEOC will receive a copy of that policy.

The Maryland Insurance Administration also will have to post notices in common areas in its offices, the consent decree states.

“We are pleased that the Maryland Insurance Administration worked closely with us to resolve this case, ensuring a fair result and avoiding further litigation costs,” EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence said in a press release. “This settlement protects all employees from sex-based wage discrimination going forward.”

The Maryland Attorney General’s office, which represented the insurance agency, declined to comment on the settlement Monday.

After the lawsuit was filed in April 2015 in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, the insurance administration in October 2016 successfully argued for summary judgment. Judge J. Frederick Motz ruled that the male investigators, whose salaries the EEOC compared to the three women’s compensation, had been hired at a higher pay schedule based on their experience.

“Thus, as to all of the comparable male employees to which the EEOC points, reasons other than gender justified the pay disparity between them,” Motz wrote in the October 2016 memorandum explaining his decision.

The EEOC then appealed the decision to the Fourth Circuit, which found there was a factual dispute over whether the pay disparity occurred because of a factor other than gender, according to a decision published in January 2018.

The federal appeals court remanded the case down to the district court last year.

The case is EEOC v. Maryland Insurance Administration, Case No.: 1:15-cv-01091-RDB.

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