The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently reversed and remanded a lower court’s summary judgment dismissal of a female employee’s claim that her employer discriminated against her by paying her less than her male predecessor because of sex in violation of the Equal Pay Act (EPA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The decision by the appeals court in Bowen v. Manheim Remarketing, Inc., No. 16-17237 (11th Cir. Feb. 21, 2018), found that there were questions of fact that had to be decided by a jury, including why the plaintiff’s salary was consistently at the bottom of the pay range for her position despite good performance, and whether the employer’s defense – that the pay disparity was the result of the male predecessor’s higher prior salary and longer prior experience – justified treating her differently than the predecessor.
The Eleventh Circuit also found it significant that the plaintiff presented evidence suggesting that male managers demonstrated sex-based bias, including prior failures to correct sex-based wage disparities; making sexist comments; the refusal to hire women for managerial positions; and the existence of a “good ole’ boy” system.
Although the court did not indicate whether the employer’s defense would have been adequate to uphold the lower court’s summary judgment ruling absent any additional evidence of sex bias, it seems clear that that was the tipping point here in deciding to send the case to a jury.
A copy of the Eleventh Circuit’s decision in Bowen v. Manheim is available here.
Members of the Center for Workplace Compliance (CWC) can read more here.