Equal Employment Opportunity Commission & DOJ Settle Allegations Against Two Texas State Agencies

The Justice Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have reached a settlement with the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) and the Texas General Land Office (GLO) to resolve allegations that both state agencies discriminated against employees on the basis of sex, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act of 1963.

The Justice Department’s complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, alleges that the TDA and GLO, as successors in interest to the now-defunct Texas Department of Rural Affairs (TDRA), violated Title VII when the TDRA discriminated against three female TDRA program specialists on the basis of their sex by paying them significantly less than their male counterparts for performing essentially the same work. The complaint further alleges that when the TDRA ultimately acted to address the salary disparities between its male and female employees who were doing comparable work, it increased the women’s salaries but did not raise them to the same level as those of their male counterparts. According to the department’s complaint, TDRA also did not retroactively compensate the women for the prior undervaluing of their salaries. The EEOC’s complaint contends that these same actions by the TDRA violated the Equal Pay Act.

The Justice Department’s complaint also alleges that the three women were subjected to retaliation when they were terminated from their employment as a consequence of their opposition to the pay disparities.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, which resolves both the Justice Department and EEOC complaints, the TDA and GLO will pay a total of $175,000 in back pay to the three female employees. Under the settlement, the TDA and GLO agree to maintain employment policies, practices and procedures that comply with all federal laws and regulations, including Title VII and the Equal Pay Act, and will educate and train their employees on these laws and provisions. Finally, as part of the settlement, the TDA and GLO provided their anti-discrimination policies to the Justice Department and EEOC for review and comment.