Pfizer has agreed to pay $2 million in back wages to female employees who were paid less than their male counterparts at their New York City headquarters in an effort to resolve “alleged compensation discrimination,” the U.S. Department of Labor said Tuesday.
The department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) reviewed the biopharmaceutical company, since it is a federal contractor, and claimed the OFCCP found wage discrimination against 86 women in professional positions from January 2015 to December 2016.
Wage differential violates federal law prohibiting government contractors, like Pfizer, "from discriminating in employment decisions based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or national origin."
Pfizer has not admitted involvement in wage discrimination, and the conciliation agreement it has entered into is intended to resolve the alleged violations without engaging in further legal proceedings, the department said.
“Pfizer is deeply committed to equity for all of its employees. The OFCCP audit that is the subject of this settlement involved minor pay discrepancies from over seven years ago among a small group of employees at a single location,” the company said in a statement provided to Scripps News.
Pfizer maintained that all pay differences were based on “appropriate business factors and were not discriminatory,” but the decision was made to resolve the dispute “due to the amount of time that has transpired and the need to focus on its core business initiatives.”
In addition to forking out back wages to the affected employees, Pfizer will set aside a separate $500,000 for future salary adjustments, the department said.
Pfizer has also agreed to provide enhanced training to its managers to ensure future compliance, conduct a compensation analysis for the affected groups and make salary adjustments if any significant pay disparities are found based on gender, according to the department.
The department also claimed Pfizer would be revising its compensation system, but the company said that does not reflect the terms they agreed to.
The company said, “Pfizer will continue to partner with the Department of Labor to maintain Pfizer’s robust diversity, equity and inclusion work in ensuring equitable pay practices for its employees.”
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