Gender discrimination, pay disparity focus of lawsuit settled by Madison County

News-DemocratDecember 19, 2013 

The lawsuit payout of almost a half-million dollars approved by Madison County Board on Wednesday settled a former Regional Office of Education employee's claim that she was retailiated against when she complained about the pay disparity.

"The case has been settled and the final details are just being worked out," said Stephanee Smith, Madison County State's Attorney's spokeswoman.

Mary Parker worked as a youth advocate for the Truant's Alternative Program. Parker's salary when she hired into the program in 2001 was $26,500. In May, 2007, Parker learned that she was making substantially less than Brian McGivern, who had the same job and the same supervisor. In 2008, she earned nearly $13,000 less than McGivern. Parker was making $30,742 while McGivern, a former teacher, was making $43,035.

She went to Regional Office Superintendent Bob Daiber and complained about the pay disparity, according to the lawsuit.

Parker claimed that Daiber offered to pay Parker $4,000 more a year, then threatened her job if she complained. Less than a year later, Parker was laid off from her job after funding for the position was lost.

A jury found in November 2012 that Parker was not paid less due to her gender, but was retailiated against because she complained about the pay disparity. That jury awarded Parker $100,000 in compensatory damages.

On Aug. 29, U.S. District Judge David Herndon signed a judgement in the case. In that order, Herndon awarded Parker:

* $107,861 in back payments and benefits.

* $3,505 in prejudgment interest.

* $220,781 in future pay.

The county's attorneys appealed the decision.

The county was then also taxed $9,269 for costs and interest.

Madison County has a self-funded liability program, and the County Board must approve any legal settlement over $20,000. On the agenda for Wednesday's meeting was a settlement of $487,000 that has been agreed to by the plaintiff and legal counsel of both parties.

Parker no longer works for the county, according to her attorney Shari Rhode, of Carbondale, but runs an animal shelter.

The County Board voted 23-4 to approve the settlement. Board members did not release details of the lawsuit on Wednesday.

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