« Environment - VP Cheney's impact on the environment | Main | Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court posts three »

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides Indy Parks equal pay case

In Kimberly M. Sims-Fingers v. City of Indianapolis (SD Ind., V. Sue Shields, Magistrate Judge), a 7-page opinion, Judge Posner writes:

The plaintiff, the manager of a sixacre park owned by the Indianapolis and Marion County park system, complains that she is paid less than some of the male managers in the park system and that the difference in pay violates the Equal Pay Act. (She also claims that it violates Title VII; we take up that claim at the end of our opinion.) The Equal Pay Act requires an employer to pay his male and female employees at the same rate “for equal work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions.” 29 U.S.C. § 206(d)(1). The district court granted summary judgment for the city on both the Equal Pay Act and Title VII claims. * * *

Managing a park with a pool is, as we said, a more responsible job than managing a park without one, other things being the same. How large a wage premium should that greater responsibility command? Who knows? Our society leaves such decisions to the market, to the forces of supply and demand, because there are no good answers to the normative question, or at least no good answers that are within the competence of judges to give.

The proper domain of the Equal Pay Act consists of standardized jobs in which a man is paid significantly more than a woman (or anything more, if the jobs are truly identical) and there are no skill differences. An example might be two sixth-grade music teachers, having the same credentials and experience, teaching classes of roughly the same size in roughly comparable public schools in the same school district. ... The jobs of the managers of the different parks in the sprawling Indianapolis park system are nonstandard, mainly because the parks are so different from one another.

We turn last and briefly to the Title VII claim. Title VII does not require equal work, but neither does it allow for recovery on the basis of the theory of comparable worth. So merely showing that a man and a woman who perform different jobs for the same employer are paid differently does not get a Title VII plaintiff to first base. As that is all the evidence of sex discrimination that the plaintiff has presented, her Title VII claim was properly dismissed as well. ... We therefore need not consider the bearing of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 127 S.Ct. 2162, 2165-69 (2007), on the timeliness of the plaintiff’s Title VII claim; the decision has no bearing on her claim under the Equal Pay Act.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 27, 2007 12:40 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions