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Four female journalists sue Detroit Free Press for equal pay

Oct 13, 2017

Four women, all award-winning journalists, are suing the Detroit Free Press and its parent company Gannett for unequal pay.

The lawsuit claims the women are paid less than male Free Press employees with similar jobs, experience, and skills.

Some full-time Free Press employees are unionized and represented by the Newspaper Guild of Detroit. According to the lawsuit, filed today, the guild negotiates minimum wages and minimum wage increases for employees, but the newspaper has control over how much more than that minimum wage it pays people.

You can read the entire lawsuit here.

The union published a study earlier this year that detailed gender pay inequities in several departments at the Free Press. Among the findings:

  • Male assistant editors at the Detroit Free Press have a median wage that is $7.62 per hour higher than the female median wage.
  • Male photographers' median wage is $4.04 per hour more than the median wage for female photographers.
  • Male reporters make a median wage that is $2.03 per hour more than the median wage of female reporters.
  • Male web designers have a median wage that is $2.85 per hour more than females' median wage.

Women copy editors did have a higher median wage than their male counterparts, by $1.70 per hour.

The report says women with more seniority at the newspaper face an even higher difference in pay compared to equally experienced male counterparts.

You can read the full study here.

Deborah Gordon, the attorney representing the four women, says the Free Press received the report after it was published, but did nothing to address the apparent pay disparity between men and women of equal skill and experience in its departments.

“There seems to be a preordained bias that women don’t need to make as much as men,” Gordon said. “It’s going to be on the defendant, in this case the newspaper, to prove a legitimate business reason for that differential.”

Gordon says her clients don’t get to negotiate their yearly salary increases. Instead, the Free Press tells them how much they’ll be paid.

All but one of the four journalists suing the paper are current Free Press employees.