EEOC Sues PFERD Milwaukee Brush for Pay Bias
Company Refused to Pay Female Employee Equal Wages, Federal Agency Charges
MILWAUKEE, Wis. - PFERD Milwaukee Brush Company, Inc., an international manufacturer of abrasive tools, power brushes, maintenance brushes and power tools, violated federal law by not paying a female employee the same salary that it paid her male predecessor, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed this week.
According to John Rowe, director of EEOC's Chicago District, which includes Wisconsin, the agency's investigation revealed that starting in May 2010, when Dawn Fuchs's predecessor, Gerry Wagner, retired and Fuchs became purchasing coordinator, she has been performing the same purchasing and receiving duties that Wagner did. Further, the EEOC said, Fuchs has performed the additional duties of scheduling for one machine, acting as the back-up for the warehouse manager, and performing certain human resources functions.
Denying a female employee equal pay for work which is at least equal to a male employee's in skill, effort, and responsibility, and which is performed under the same or similar working conditions, violates the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks lost wages and compensatory and punitive damages for Fuchs, an order barring future discrimination, and other relief. The suit, captioned EEOC v. PFERD Milwaukee Brush Company, Inc. (Civil Action No. 2:12-cv-982), was filed Sept. 26 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin in Milwaukee and assigned to U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Joseph.
"The time has long since passed when women should have to earn less money for doing the same work as their male counterparts," Rowe said. "Unfortunately, it appears that not all employers have gotten the message that Congress stated in the Equal Pay Act of 1963."
EEOC Chicago Regional Attorney John C. Hendrickson added, "When women are underpaid, the violation follows them into retirement as they accumulate less social security or pension based on their lowered wages. We are determined to ensure that women are treated as they should be under federal law."
The EEOC is a member of the White House Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force and has engaged in a number of fronts-from training of staff and public education efforts, to coordination with sister agencies-to focus attention on the problems of sex-based wage discrimination.
According to its website, "PFERD Inc., the American subsidiary of August Ruggeberg GmbH and Co. of Marienheide, Germany, a 212-year-old world leader in the design and manufacture of abrasive tools, power brushes, maintenance brushes and power tools, has completed its consolidation of all U.S. production and distribution operations into a 100,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility located at 9201 Heather Avenue in Milwaukee, Wisconsin."
The EEOC's Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, with area offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis. The case will be litigated by attorneys in the Milwaukee Area Office.