By Jessica Dye
NEW YORK, Jan 4 (Reuters) - After paying female police
dispatchers $7 million to settle a wage discrimination lawsuit,
Nassau County must face an unequal pay lawsuit brought by their
The male dispatchers brought a lawsuit saying that as a
result of the 2011 settlement, they made less money than women
with the same job title.
U.S. District Judge Joseph Bianco on Thursday denied Nassau
County's motion to dismiss the lawsuit, saying the county could
be on the hook even if the claims stemmed from the settlement.
"The mere fact that an alleged discriminatory pay structure
is the product of a voluntary settlement by an employer with
other parties in a separate lawsuit, even with court approval,
does not automatically immunize the employer from liability
under the discrimination laws," Bianco wrote.
In 2005, female police dispatchers filed a federal lawsuit
against Nassau County claiming they were making less than male
fire communications technicians, despite performing
substantially similar work.
Nassau County and the dispatchers agreed to settle the case
for $7 million, and the deal was approved by U.S. Magistrate
Judge Kathleen Tomlinson in December 2011.
In May 30 male police dispatchers filed their lawsuit
against the county and the county police department. Their
action asserted claims under the U.S. and New York Equal Pay
Acts, as well as Nassau County Government Law Section 1307,
which stipulates equal pay for equal work for county employees,
and Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act. Nassau County Civil
Service Commission and county executive Ed Mangano were also
named as defendants.
The defendants moved to dismiss the case, arguing that the
settlement did not constitute a wage or salary increase for
female dispatchers. The county said in court papers that it
should not have to face equal pay act claims stemming from a
The judge disagreed.
Under the federal equal pay statute, there is "no exception
if the gender-based unequal pay structure arose from a voluntary
settlement by the employer of another lawsuit."
Bianco, however, dismissed the Section 1983 claim against
Mangano, saying that he did not need to be sued individually. He
also said there was no proof that Mangano had personal knowledge
of the alleged unconstitutional actions.
A lawyer for the male dispatchers, Louis Stober, said that
his clients were pleased with the decision and looking forward
to "total vindication in this round of litigation." He said
potential damages could run in the millions of dollars.
A spokesperson for Nassau County did not immediately return
a request for comment.
The case is Volpe v. Nassau County, U.S. District Court for
the Eastern District of New York, No. 12-2416.
For the plaintiffs: Louis Stober and Jamie Rowsell.
For the defendants: Michelle Faraci of the Nassau County
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