A Phoenix-based military contractor will pay $110,000 to settle a complaint of sex and age discrimination filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency said Wednesday.
The lawsuit alleged that Simula Inc., now a part of BAE Systems, illegally discriminated against three temporary employees - Margaret Chavez, Laura Box and Christine Hanson - in 2004 and 2005 by paying them less than male employees who performed the same duties.
The EEOC also charged that Simula discriminated against Chavez on the basis of age and ended Box's temporary employment in retaliation for her complaints of sexual harassment.
The three women will split the $110,000 settlement, said supervisory trial attorney Sally Shanley.
BAE Systems, which makes body armor for U.S. military troops at its plant in Ahwatukee Foothills, did not directly respond to the charges but released a statement saying the company "is committed to our employees and the work they do for our fighting men and women in uniform. We are an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer that understands the value of diversity and its impact on a high performance culture."
In addition to paying the fine, the consent decree requires Simula/BAE Systems to provide training for employees about laws prohibiting sex discrimination, age discrimination and retaliation.
Despite federal laws prohibiting wage discrimination against women in both permanent and temporary positions, they continue to be paid less than men who perform the same jobs, said Mary Jo O'Neill, EEOC regional attorney. She cited a study by the American Association of University Women that found women are paid an average of 83 percent of men's wages in Arizona for the same work.
The study took into account differences in full-time versus part-time employment, education levels and other variables that are sometimes used to justify lower pay, she said.
"As more companies choose temporary labor to fill their staffing needs, it is important for both those companies and employment agencies to be aware of their obligations to prevent discrimination and appropriately respond to allegations," she said.