Suit: Hundreds of women received less pay at Virginia agency

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A pay discrimination lawsuit has been filed on behalf of about 250 women who worked for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality prior to 2019.

The suit was filed Monday by two former and two current employees who said the agency violated the Equal Pay Act of 1963 by paying female employees less than male employees, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

According to the lawsuit, Virginia officials admitted the previous protocols used to hire female employees were illegal. Last year, Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring both stated Virginia women lost income that was legally deserved because of discriminatory practices, such as basing newly hired women’s salaries on their prior earning history, the lawsuit said.

Northam announced in June 2019 that state agencies would no longer ask for salary history on job applications in order to lessen unconscious bias at the beginning of the hiring process.

However, the lawsuit said hundreds of female state employees don’t benefit from the new hiring protocol.

The lawsuit also said over the years, men have received higher raises than women and later, men would get higher retirement incomes since it’s based off salary history.

The plaintiffs seek lost pay reimbursement and retaliation protection.

A DEQ spokesperson on Tuesday said the agency couldn’t comment on ongoing litigation.