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Lawsuit: City pays women less than male counterparts

Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal

A class-action lawsuit alleges the city of Albuquerque “systematically” pays female workers less per hour than their male counterparts “in most, if not all, positions.”

Among rank-and-file, or “graded,” employees, women on average make $3 less per hour, according to the suit.

Among at-will, or “ungraded,” employees, women make $6 less per hour.

And the four female evidence technicians who filed the lawsuit say they are, on average, making $1.84 per hour less than men in the same jobs.

“The law requires the same work for the same pay under the same conditions, and these folks are all doing the same job,” attorney Matthew Garcia, who is representing the plaintiffs, said of the city’s evidence technicians, who work in the Albuquerque Police Department.

The lawsuit, filed last week in state District Court, alleges the city is violating the state’s Fair Pay for Women Act, which prohibits employers from paying different wages for equal work in jobs requiring equal skill, effort and responsibility. The pay rates, the lawsuit says, are not the result of a seniority or merit system, and the city has no basis to “justify the disparate payment or wages between male and female employees.”

“A review of publicly available data shows that there are hundreds of women who are paid less than men for similar work under similar conditions,” the lawsuit says.

In a statement, city spokeswoman Alicia Manzano said she could not comment on the lawsuit, but she said “bridging the gender pay gap is a priority for the mayor.”

The lawsuit was filed by the four evidence technicians “on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated.”

Garcia said one of the women in the lawsuit has been in the same job since 2004, and city records show she still makes less per hour than a few of her male colleagues, one of whom makes $7 an hour more than she does. Garcia said his clients can find no explanation for the disparity.

There’s some suggestion, Garcia said, that city employees who move from higher-paid positions into lower-paid positions are able to maintain their original salaries, which could offer some explanation for the difference.

A 2015 story in the Journal reported that the city estimated its wage disparity was around 7 percent. And according to American Community Survey estimates for 2016, New Mexico women working full time are paid about 82 percent of what men make.

Garcia said an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigation is also pending.

Garcia said the plaintiffs want to see their pay increased to match what their male counterparts are receiving, and they want the city to post notice of the violations so that other women employees are aware of them.

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