Nassau County offers $7 million to women in bias suit

NEW YORK Fri Jun 10, 2011 4:00pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Nassau County, on New York's Long Island, proposed a $7 million payment on Thursday to resolve allegations that female police communications officers' were paid less than men in equivalent jobs.

The proposed settlement still needs to be approved by Senior U.S. District Judge Frederic Block in Brooklyn federal court.

The county did not acknowledge any wrongdoing in the proposed settlement offer.

The class-action suit was filed in November 2005 on behalf of all women who have worked as police communications officers and supervisors in Nassau County since 1999. According to court documents, women make up approximately 90 percent of the staff for those jobs, which involve fielding calls to the police and dispatching officers to investigate crime scenes.

According to the lawsuit, the women claimed they were being paid as much as $10,000 per year less than fire communications technicians -- all of whom are men -- despite performing substantially the same work, in violation of the New York State Equal Pay Act.

Block certified the class in 2007. The county fought to chip away at the validity of the plaintiffs' claims and their expert testimony until last July, when settlement negotiations began, according to court documents.

Herbert Eisenberg, an attorney with Eisenberg & Schnell serving as co-counsel for the class, estimated that approximately 225 people are eligible to join the settlement, divided into two classes comprised of the officers and their supervisors.

Nassau County intends to issue bonds to pay for the proposed settlement, according to court documents.

No date has been set yet for standard hearings on the settlement's fairness or its final approval.

A spokeswoman for the county did not immediately return requests for comment on the suit.

(Reporting by Jessica Dye; Editing by Greg McCune)

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