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Rhode Island ACLU’s pay discrimination lawsuit highlights problem of pay discrimination

The Rhode Island ACLU has sued the Newport Grand Casino claiming that the casino paid their client, Paula Borrelli, less because of her gender.  Borrelli claims that she learned during a meeting in December 2016 that her male colleague received higher pay than her.  She says that she immediately asked for the same pay as this male colleague but the casino denied her request in May 2017 without any explanation.

“I just held myself together. I was falling apart inside because I was disgusted,” Borrelli said. “I was thinking they were building me up over these months thinking to myself that they’re working on it and this is it. And the answer was ‘we’re doing nothing.’”

“Ms. Borrelli’s case epitomizes both the deeply-ingrained problem of wage discrimination that too many women routinely face and the need for stronger, not weaker, protections in the law to address this discrimination,” said RI ACLU Executive Director Steven Brown in a statement. “That is why, although we rarely handle employment discrimination cases in the private sector, we felt it important to get involved in the case and help bring attention to this important issue.”

Pay discrimination is a serious and persistent problem that women face.  Women earn about 80% of what men earn.  In the last 15 years, the pay gap between men and women has not changed.  The gap is even larger for certain sub-groups of women, such as mothers.

During the Obama administration, the EEOC issued a regulation that required employers with 100 or more employees to provide more data to the EEOC on employee pay in the annual reports that employers provide to the EEOC.  This would have required these large employers to take a close look at their pay practices and correct inequities or risk the EEOC bringing law enforcement actions against them.  The Trump administration has directed the EEOC to scrap this new requirement.  Some civil rights organizations believe that this directive from the Trump administration may have been improper and could pursue litigation against the Trump administration seeking to get the regulation reinstated.  They have filed a lawsuit seeking documents related to the Trump administration’s decision.

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