Amtrak Accused of Pay Discrimination

February 2, 2011 ( - The nation’s largest rail carrier is being accused of paying a human resources regional director less money because of her gender and then unlawfully retaliating against her when she complained about the discrimination.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit that beginning in 2001, the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, also known as Amtrak, discriminated against Sheila Davidson in her compensation and work assignments because of her gender. The EEOC said Amtrak paid Davidson, a human resources manager assigned to the rail carrier’s 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, the same salary as it paid two male human resources regional directors, even though Davidson had more relevant experience and was assigned a far greater workload than her male counterparts.  

According to an EEOC press release, the pattern of sex discrimination against Davidson continues to have a negative effect on her compensation and benefits even after she was laterally transferred to the position of director of work force planning in 2006.  

The agency also charged that Amtrak violated Title VII and the Equal Pay Act of 1963 by unlawfully retaliating against Davidson because she complained about the wage discrimination and filed a charge with the EEOC. The retaliation includes barring Davidson from participating in senior staff meetings.  

The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief prohibiting discriminatory practices based on gender or retaliation, as well as lost wages and compensatory and punitive damages for Davidson and other affirmative relief.  

“Denying Davidson a salary commensurate with her greater workload not only showed bad business judgment, it also constituted a violation of federal law. We hope this lawsuit reminds all employers to review their compensation policies and practices to make sure they are not engaging in unlawful wage discrimination,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence, in the press release.