A proposed collective action alleges the Central Bucks School District in Bucks County, Pennsylvania has discriminated against female teachers by paying them less than male teachers with similar experience.
The lawsuit, filed in Pennsylvania federal court on June 8, alleges the Central Bucks School District has manipulated the factors under its salary schedule to compensate female teachers less than similarly situated male teachers in violation of the federal Equal Pay Act.
The plaintiff, a female teacher employed by the district since August 2016, claims in the 11-page case that she was placed at the lowest salary scale despite having 14 years of prior experience teaching in Pennsylvania public schools in addition to a master’s degree. According to the lawsuit, a male teacher with the same amount of experience was given full credit for his years teaching in Pennsylvania public schools and placed at Step “15” on the salary scale at the start of his employment with the defendant. Per the suit, the same male teacher, identified in the complaint as John Doe, was also treated by the district as if he had 30 post-graduate credits in addition to his master’s degree “even though he did not.”
At the start of her employment with the Central Bucks School District, the plaintiff had been working in Pennsylvania public schools since 1995 and tallied 14 years of experience, plus a master’s degree from Arcadia University, the lawsuit says. Prior to the woman’s acceptance of employment, the defendant represented to the plaintiff that the district’s salary schedules were used as the sole basis to determine teachers’ pay, without regard to gender, the case relays.
According to the suit, one factor in the salary schedules, the “Step,” is determined by a teacher’s number of years of experience teaching in Pennsylvania public schools. Another factor, the case explains, is the teacher’s level of education, i.e., whether the individual has a bachelor’s degree, a bachelor’s degree plus 24 post-graduate credits, a master’s degree, a master’s degree plus an additional 15 post-graduate credits, or a master’s degree plus an additional 30 post-graduate credits.
The lawsuit contends that the plaintiff’s years of experience and level of education should have placed her at Step “15” on the defendant’s 2016-2017 salary schedule as a fifteenth-year teacher with a master’s degree, and thereby earned the woman an annual salary of $98,379. Nevertheless, the plaintiff was placed at Step “1” on the salary schedule “as if she were only in her first year of teaching,” and paid an annual salary of $51,157, the suit says.
In subsequent years, the plaintiff ultimately reached Step “5” under the 2020-2021 salary schedule and received an annual salary of $62,651 despite being in her nineteenth year of teaching public school in Pennsylvania and possessing a master’s degree, the case claims. The plaintiff says she learned this year that male teachers employed by the district have been treated more favorably than female teachers with regard to compensation under the salary schedules.
As an example, the lawsuit says John Doe had at most 14 years of experience teaching in Pennsylvania public schools before beginning his employment with the defendant. Unlike the plaintiff, however, Doe received “full credit” for his years of experience and was placed at Step “15” on the defendant’s 2010-2011 salary scale, with an annual salary of $101,810, the case says. Moreover, the man was deemed to have a master’s degree and 30 additional post-graduate credits even though he allegedly did not have that many credits in addition to his degree, the suit relays.
“The credit that Doe received for his 14 years of prior Pennsylvania public school teaching experience and 30 academic credits beyond his Master’s Degree have been used by the District to place Doe at the highest level of compensation under the applicable Salary Schedules from the time he began employment with the District through the present,” the complaint claims, alleging the plaintiff and other women teachers have not received equal treatment.
The lawsuit discusses another example in which a female teacher was “similarly subjected to gender discrimination” by the district. According to the case, the teacher began her employment with Central Bucks School District with nine years of prior experience teaching in the state’s public schools and a master’s degree. Although the woman should have been placed at Step “J” on the district’s 2007-2008 salary schedule, she was placed at Step “E” as if she were only in her fifth year of teaching, the suit says.
Like the plaintiff, the female teacher was not credited with more academic credits than she had received for the purpose of placement on the salary schedule, according to the lawsuit. For the 2019-2020 school year, the woman was placed at Step “14” even though she was in her twenty-second year of teaching in Pennsylvania public schools and should have been placed at the defendant’s maximum Step “16,” the complaint claims.
The lawsuit looks to represent all women teachers employed by the Central Bucks School District since 2000 who have been subject to compensation under the district’s applicable salary schedules and were treated less favorably than male teachers employed during the same time period with respect to compensation under the applicable salary schedules.
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