Bernalillo Co. discrimination lawsuit could grow to nearly 230 female plaintiffs

Updated: 07/14/2014 10:09 PM | Created: 07/14/2014 9:13 PM
By: Chris Ramirez, KOB Eyewitness News 4

A lawsuit that originated with seven female plaintiffs may grow to include at least 230 women who may be victims of pay inequity and gender discrimination while working for Bernalillo County.

The original lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in 2011 and claimed that male supervisors retaliated against the women when they spoke out about sexual harassment or getting passed over for promotions.

A motion filed last month seeks to certify about 230 female Bernalillo County employees into a class action lawsuit against the county.

“In terms of (Bernalillo County) employment practices and how they treat women, it’s one of the worst employers I think I've seen,” said Whitney Warner, the attorney representing the women. “Not paying women the same rate that you're paying men is a big deal, especially when it's affecting hundreds of people.”

The lawsuit makes several claims including:

• Bernalillo County has outdated and primitive hiring policies that allow managers to select new employees based on “personal preference” and not based on education, skills, or experience.

• Male managers made disparaging comments about female employees. One administrator allegedly called a female employee a “bitch” for complaining about not being promoted. Another administrator allegedly told his colleagues that he no longer wanted to hire women because they are “too emotional” and “too difficult.”

• Data gathered by Warner’s office shows that women statistically are paid less than their male counterparts.

A Bernalillo County spokesperson denied any claims that the plaintiffs were discriminated against by their employer.

“While the plaintiffs in this case may believe they are unfairly compensated, the county believes there is no evidence to support that. The county also believes there is no evidence to support a class action case,” spokesperson Tia Bland told KOB-TV. “What I can say is that Bernalillo County takes discrimination allegations very seriously.”

Bernalillo County has not yet opposed the class certification motion.

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