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Sunday, December 21, 2014, 12:03 p.m.
Top Picks - Capture Arkansas

2 female doctors sue VA secretary, call pay unequal

$14,000 more a year for men, suit says

By Linda Satter

This article was published July 31, 2014 at 4:24 a.m.

Female doctors at the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System are consistently paid at least $14,000 less per year than their male counterparts, a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday said.

The sex-discrimination lawsuit was filed in Little Rock by Gayle Gordon and Teresa Maxwell, two longtime critical care emergency room doctors at the John L. McClellan Memorial Veterans Hospital in Little Rock.

The women have both worked for the hospital system operated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for several years. Attorney Pamela Walker, who is working with attorney James E. Nickels of Sherwood to represent the doctors, said neither woman realized they were paid less than male doctors for performing the exact same jobs until Gordon's husband applied for and obtained the same position several years ago. She said the Gordons were shocked, upon comparing paychecks, to see that he was paid more than she was, despite her having more experience.

Walker said a deeper investigation, using public records, showed that the base salary paid to all female doctors is lower than that of male doctors in identical positions throughout the central Arkansas system.

No matter the specialty or duties, "All of the women are underneath all of the men," she said. "It's not their capability, it's not their experience. It's not anything but their sex."

Miles Brown, public affairs officer for the central Arkansas system, said Wednesday that the department doesn't comment on ongoing litigation.

The two doctors first raised the salary disparity issue internally several years ago and still have a claim pending under the Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., but so far have gotten no relief for their efforts, Walker said. The lawsuit alleges that the civil-rights violations date back to November 2008.

Walker said the plaintiffs aren't the only female emergency room doctors at the McClellan hospital or the Eugene J. Towbin Healthcare Center in North Little Rock, which is also operated by the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, but they are the only ones who are suing. The lawsuit wasn't filed as a class-action lawsuit, but it seeks a declaratory judgment that the pay practices violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and an injunction prohibiting further discrimination, which would apply across the board.

The suit also seeks compensatory damages and the cost of attorneys fees for each of the plaintiffs. The defendant is Bob McDonald, secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The lawsuit states, "After repeated complaints by the plaintiffs, not only has the defendant refused to raise the plaintiffs' salaries to that of the men in the same job, but the defendant has hired men into the same job as that held by the plaintiffs but at salaries higher than the defendant was, and is, paying the plaintiffs."

The lawsuit was randomly assigned to U.S. District Judge James M. Moody Jr.

Metro on 07/31/2014

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Displaying 1 - 4 of 4 total comments

bbodb says... July 31, 2014 at 8:47 a.m.

It would be nice if this article addressed one very important consideration - are the skill sets and educational backgrounds equal? Equal pay for equal qualifications includes ALL qualifications.

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KMS says... July 31, 2014 at 12:55 p.m.

@bbodb - says the women have more experience in the same position - so yes, skill sets being equal, the Fed Gov't is discriminating against women employees. That will make a difference went they retire and have less funds to fall back on, which happens to 77% of the working women who try to retire today.

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FreeSpiritMan says... July 31, 2014 at 1:14 p.m.

They are already paid less than their peers in private practice.

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carpenterretired says... July 31, 2014 at 2:18 p.m.

Republicans vote against equal pay for equal work, so women being paid less than men for equal work is just traditional family values for the GOP.

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