Wisconsin School District to Pay $450K to Settle Equal Pay Lawsuit

July 17, 2023

Verona Area School District in Madison, Wisconsin will pay $450,000, raise salaries, and furnish other relief to settle a pay discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced.

According to EEOC’s lawsuit, the school district violated civil rights law by paying nine female special education teachers and one female school psychologist lower wages than more recently hired male employees doing the same work. All nine special education teachers have experience comparable to (or greater than) their male colleague, but the district paid them $3,000 to $17,000 less than it paid him.

The EEOC also charged that the school district paid a female school psychologist less than a male school psychologist, paying her at least $16,000 less per year than it paid her male colleague. The district outright rejected the special education teachers’ and school psychologist’s requests to raise their salaries to match those of their recently hired, more highly paid male co-workers. However, the district repeatedly negotiated and agreed to salary increases sought by male teachers whose salaries were lower than those of newly hired, less-experienced teachers.

Such alleged conduct violates the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which prohibits discrimination in pay based on sex. The EEOC filed its suit (Civil Action 3:22-cv-00039) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to the $450,000 in monetary relief, the four-year consent decree settling the suit requires Verona Area School District to raise the salaries of the women in the suit, review its pay policy, conduct anti-discrimination training, post a notice to employees at its worksites about the lawsuit, and submit written reports twice a year to the EEOC.