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EEOC sues MDOT, claiming man was paid less than female colleagues

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has alleged in a new lawsuit that the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration discriminated against a male employee by paying him lower wages than his female colleagues because of his gender.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, claims that the State Highway Administration paid the male employee thousands of dollars less than women who were performing the same job.

The suit asks for back pay for the male employee, Robert Rager, who began working as a district community liaison for the state in 2007 as a contract employee, then became a regular state employee in 2014.

In 2015, when Rager was transferred to another district, a woman was hired to perform the job he had held, according to the lawsuit. She was paid about $11,000 more than Rager, the complaint claims.

Two other women later held the same position that Rager had, according to the complaint, and each was paid substantially more than Rager. One woman was paid $23,000 more than Rager, though Rager had more experience, the suit claims.

The State Highway Administration also paid more to women working in other districts who had less experience than Rager, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit claims the State Highway Administration violated the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which prohibits pay discrimination based on sex. The EEOC said in a news release that it first tried to reach a settlement with the State Highway Administration out of court before filing Monday’s lawsuit.

“That Mr. Rager performed the same duties as his female successors and coworkers in other districts, had more years of experience, but was paid thousands less, is both unfair and illegal – and that’s why we filed this lawsuit,” EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence said in a news release.

Maryland’s Department of Transportation has not responded to the suit in court and a spokesperson for the State Highway Administration declined to comment because the case is pending.

The EEOC’s Baltimore Field Office is part of the Philadelphia District Office, which has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. The Philadelphia District Office also prosecutes discrimination cases in D.C. and parts of Virginia.

“The EEOC is fully and absolutely committed to ensuring that gender is not factored into compensation and that employees must receive equal pay for equal work,” EEOC District Director Jamie Williamson said.