Cummins sued for gender discrimination

Enginemaker accused of Equal Employment Opportunity workplace violation

Bartholomew County’s largest employer has been sued in federal court for allegedly violating a gender discrimination law stemming from the pay of a woman who worked at a company call center in Tennessee.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against Cummins Inc. alleges that Krista Clements was unfairly paid less than a male counterpart, Scott Olivio, even though they performed equal work at the call center in Nashville.

According to court documents, Clements was promoted to a human resources benefits enrollment position, called a Life Events Power User, in February 2015 at an annual salary of $38,500. Merit-based pay increases in 2015 and 2016 bumped her pay to $40,900 by July 2016, the lawsuit says.

That same year, Cummins decided to hire a second Life Events Power User at the call center in Nashville. After a woman declined the position at an offer of $41,000, Cummins hired Olivio at a salary of $47,000, the lawsuit says.

Clements, who served as Olivio’s trainer when he started, asked her supervisor for a salary review and internal-equity audit because she thought Olivio earning a higher salary “felt illegal.”

The supervisor informed Clement in August 2016 that the review and audit found that she was not being compensated at market rate and she was being paid less than Olivio, but that no adjustment would be made to her salary at that time, the lawsuit states.

When Clements resigned her position in June 2017, she still was making less than Olivio, the lawsuit states.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleges Cummins’ conduct violates the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, both of which prohibit discrimination in the form of compensation based on one’s gender.

The commission filed the lawsuit after it first attempted to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process, according to the EEOC.

The EEOC seeks injunctive relief prohibiting Cummins from disparately compensating employees based on gender, and back pay and damages, according to the lawsuit.

“It is well past time for employers to recognize they cannot undervalue the contributions of women workers. Enforcing the laws that require equal pay for men and women performing the same jobs remains a priority for the EEOC. In 2016, the EEOC received more than 1,000 charges alleging EPA violations, which shows we have our work cut out for us,” said Katharine W. Kores, district director of the EEOC’s Memphis District Office.

Cummins declined to comment specifically on the pending litigation.

“Though we do not comment on pending litigation, Cummins remains committed to diversity and inclusion, which are central to our core values and how we operate our global business,” said Katie Zarich, manager of external communications for Cummins Inc.

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Kirk Johannesen is assistant managing editor of The Republic. He can be reached at johannesen@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5639.