Baltimore to pay almost $200,000 to female Enoch Pratt Free Library employees following federal discrimination suit

Alex Mann, The Baltimore Sun

Baltimore will pay almost $200,000 total to five female employees at the city’s Enoch Pratt Free Library after a federal judge found that the city and library discriminated against them by paying the women less because of their sex, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced Tuesday.

The five-figure judgement issued by U.S. District Judge Paula Xinis followed a 2017 lawsuit and a virtual bench trial before her this fall in the U.S. District Court for Maryland, the commission said in a statement.

Xinis’ ruling found that Baltimore and its free library system violated the federal Equal Pay Act of 1963 by paying five female librarian supervisors thousands of dollars less than a male counterpart.

Meghan McCorkell, a library spokeswoman, said in a statement that Enoch Pratt is “committed to equality in the workplace” and has enacted change in light of the lawsuit.

“Since the circumstances of this lawsuit back in 2015, the organization has put into place mechanisms to ensure similar circumstances do not occur for other employees,” McCorkell said.

The library rehired a man in June 2015 at the position of “Librarian Supervisor I” and at a salary of thousands of dollars higher than the salaries of five women who held the same position and had more experience in the role, according to the judge’s opinion.

Lawyers for the library argued that the pay discrepancy was unrelated to sex, saying that the male supervisor and female supervisors did different work, an argument Xinis rejected in her ruling.

The almost $200,000 judgement includes back pay for the women and damages because Xinis determined the library didn’t act in good faith and knew the pay disparity violated the law.

When one of the female supervisors filed for a pay adjustment upon learning of her male counterpart’s salary, a library official approved the request before abruptly withdrawing it,” Xinis wrote. The official “candidly admitted that he withdrew” the salary revaluation upon learning the employee had filed a charge with the equal employment commission and realizing upping her salary may have system-wide effects.

“The Court cannot find that the Library acted in good faith when it continued to pay (the female employee who asked for an adjustment) and the other Claimants less than (the male employee) after learning of the disparity,” Xinis wrote.

The employment commission’s Philadelphia District Office, which has jurisdiction over Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio, announced the judgement.

“Employers must pay women equal wages for equal work,” Philadelphia District Director Jamie Williamson said, adding that the commission is committed to eliminating such discriminatory practices as outlined in the Baltimore complaint.

Acting Baltimore Solicitor Dana Moore said the city was “not surprised” by the outcome of the lawsuit.

“We’ll resolve the matter as expeditiously as possible,” Moore added. “We do not anticipate pursuing an appeal and are looking to move forward.”