February 2, 2011 / 12:42 AM / 8 years ago

EEOC sues Amtrak for gender bias, retaliation

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Amtrak was accused in a lawsuit by the EEOC of gender bias for discriminating against a female employee in pay and work assignments, and retaliating against her when she complained.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission also said it has evidence of other discrepancies in pay between male and female workers at Amtrak, the U.S. long-haul passenger rail service, but is not bringing a lawsuit on that basis now.

Amtrak officials could not be reached immediately for comment.

According to its website, Amtrak employs more than 19,000 people.

In a complaint filed Tuesday with the U.S. district court in Philadelphia, the EEOC said Amtrak has since 2001 “engaged in a continuous practice of suppressing” the wages of Sheila Davidson, a human resources manager assigned to its 30th Street Station in that city.

The EEOC said that between 2001 and 2006, when Davidson was a human resources regional director, Amtrak refused to pay her more than two male colleagues though she had a “significantly heavier” workload and at least equal experience.

According to the complaint, the effects of this discrimination continued after Davidson took her current job, director of workforce planning, in 2006.

Then, after Davidson complained to the EEOC the following year, Amtrak retaliated against her, including by barring her from senior staff meetings, the EEOC said.

Philip Kovnat, an EEOC trial lawyer, said in an interview that the agency filed the lawsuit after talks failed to resolve the matter out of court.

“The investigation did reveal discrepancies in pay between male and female workers at Amtrak, but at this time we don’t have enough evidence to pursue a lawsuit under a theory of systemic discrimination,” he said.

The lawsuit seeks back pay, punitive damages, other financial remedies, and an order requiring Amtrak not to discriminate on the basis of pay or retaliation.

The EEOC announcement appears at

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