The Maryland Insurance Administration, an independentstate agency that regulates Maryland's insurance industry andenforces insurance laws, violated federal law by paying femaleemployees lower wages than men, the U.S. Equal EmploymentOpportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced April 23. Enforcement of equal pay lawsand targeting compensation systems and practices that discriminatebased on gender is of one of six national priorities identified bythe EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan.

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The EEOC says that since at least December 2009, the MarylandInsurance Administration paid Alexandra Cordaro, Mary Jo Rogers,Marlene Green and a class of similarly situated femaleinvestigators and enforcement officers lower wages than it paid totheir male counterparts who were doing substantially equal workunder similar working conditions. The alleged wage discriminationtook place at the insurance administration's Baltimore office.

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The alleged conduct violates the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA),which prohibits discrimination in compensation based on sex.According to the EEOC, the federal agency first attempted to reacha pre-litigation settlement before filing suit in the U.S. DistrictCourt for the District of Maryland, Northern Division (EEOC v.Maryland Insurance Administration, Civil Action No.1:15-cv-01091-JFM).

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Compensation systems are EEOC target

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"It's ironic and disturbing that a state law enforcement agencywould pay female investigators and enforcement officers less thantheir male colleagues simply because of their gender in violationof federal law," said Spencer H. Lewis, Jr., district director ofthe EEOC's Philadelphia District Office.

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EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, "It's not justunfair when women are paid less than men when they do substantiallyequal work under similar working conditions. It's a blatantviolation of federal law. The EEOC is committed to ensuring thatall employees, both public sector and private sector employees,receive the equal pay they deserve."

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When asked about the lawsuit, Vivian Laxton, director of publicaffairs for the Maryland Insurance Administration, said, "TheMaryland Insurance Administration strongly disputes theallegations. The case will be vigorously defended."

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Rosalie Donlon

Rosalie Donlon is the editor in chief of ALM's insurance and tax publications, including NU Property & Casualty magazine and NU PropertyCasualty360.com. You can contact her at [email protected].