MINNEAPOLIS-The Montevideo School District has agreed to pay $50,000 and reclassify the position of a female employee after a federal employment investigation.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced the agreement Thursday.
The EEOC's Minneapolis area office determined following an investigation that the school district did not pay the female custodial aide wages equal to that of a custodian, a position which was held by her male co-worker, even though the two performed job duties that were the same as or equivalent in skill, effort and responsibility.
The Montevideo School District disagrees with the EEOC's findings, said Superintendent of Schools Luther Heller.
"The district decided to settle this matter because we determined the employee had performed work above and beyond the job description or job classification,'' the district responded in a statement. "Therefore we decided that the employee was entitled to a higher ranking and a higher paying job. We don't agree that it was for the reasons stated by the EEOC, but we agree there was an unfair result and we took steps to remedy that.''
The superintendent said that the school's insurance carrier paid the majority of the settlement. The district paid an amount equal to the difference of what the employee had earned and what would have been paid at the higher job classification.
"In effect, the district made the employee whole,'' Heller said.
He added that the district did not do anything it felt was intentionally discriminatory.
"When we sat down and eventually analyzed it, yes, that person did the work. That is the reason we settled this. We concurred that there was an inequity that was created.''
The EEOC stated in a news release that the custodial aide position is an hourly position and pays almost less than half of the salaried custodian position. Following the investigation, EEOC determined that there was reasonable cause to believe that the school district was violating the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The district disputes the EEOC's claim that the custodial aide pay was only half that of the custodian position, according to Heller. The back pay in this case was paid for work performed 2012 - 2016, amounting to roughly $5,000 a year.
"If that represented a 50 percent difference in salaries, neither one are being paid very much. It simply wasn't an accurate portrayal,'' the superintendent said.
In addition to paying $50,000 to the female employee, the conciliation agreement requires the Montevideo School District to reclassify her to a custodian position and adjust her pay accordingly; provide annual anti-discrimination training to all of its employees; and submit to EEOC all allegations of wage discrimination made by employees to the School District during the agreement's three-year term.
"EEOC is committed to full enforcement of Title VII and the Equal Pay Act to ensure that women are paid equally for their work in the same jobs as men," said Julie Schmid, acting director of the agency's Minneapolis Area Office.
Julianne Bowman, district director of EEOC's Chicago District Office, added, "In this day and age it is unfortunate that women still have to fight for equal pay."
The Minneapolis Area Office is part of EEOC's Chicago District. The Chicago District is responsible for investigating charges of discrimination in Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and North and South Dakota.
EEOC enforces federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.