The Justice Department announced Thursday, Aug. 11 that it has filed a lawsuit alleging that New Mexico State University and its Board of Regents discriminated against a female former assistant track coach on the basis of sex by paying her less than similarly-situated men in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The Justice Department’s complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico and alleges that, over the relevant periods of time, NMSU paid Meaghan Harkins thousands of dollars less per year than it paid to two male assistant track coaches with similar responsibilities, in violation of Title VII. Title VII is a federal statute that prohibits employment discrimination – including discrimination in compensation – on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin and religion.
“Women deserve the same salary and the same respect as their male colleagues with similar job duties,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Lawsuits like this one demonstrate the Justice Department’s steadfast commitment to enforcing federal law to close the wage gap.”
“This lawsuit reflects the recognition by the Department of Justice of the bedrock principle of equal pay for equal work and that this principle must be applied to all employees within the public sector workforce,” said U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez of the District of New Mexico.
Harkins originally filed a charge of sex discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC’s El Paso Area Office investigated the charge and found reasonable cause to believe that NMSU discriminated against Harkins. After unsuccessful conciliation efforts, the EEOC referred the charge to the Justice Department.