Last night, partner Katie Abernethy appeared on Fox 9 News in Minneapolis, MN regarding her recent argument in front of the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals against an employer based out of Minneapolis. In her argument, Katie represented Tracy Sempowich in an Equal Pay Act claim.
Kelcey Carlson: A Minneapolis-based medical device company will have to a former employee in court over equal pay issues. A former regional sales manager sued the company because a male counterpart had a higher base salary. The case involves Tactile Systems Technology. The employee was Tracy Sempowich. Sempowich made a lower base salary than her male counterpart, but she made more in commissions. So, lower court initially ruled that equal pay laws were not violated, but last week an appeals court disagreed and said the case can go to trial. I had the chance to talk to Tracy and her attorney today.
Katie Abernethy: And so that’s why I think that looking at it by wage rate is so important. Because, if we didn’t do that, we’d be able to live in a world where a company could pay, once again, the example that the Fourth Circuit gave, I think, was right on, a company could pay men $20 an hour and women $10 an hour, and as long as the women worked twice as many hours, you know, what’s the problem? And, obviously, that is not living up to what the Equal Pay is there for in the first place.
Tracy Sempowich: The issue is I have worked 80 hours, I’ve been on planes, trains, just like any[one] else, and I put my blood, sweat, and tears into this job. I loved it. I think that’s the tragedy of the whole thing. I really loved what I did, and I loved this company. And to realize that I was not getting paid, from a base salary perspective, the same as my male counterparts was disheartening.
Carlson: The case is very similar to the case being made by the women’s national soccer team and their lawsuit against U.S. soccer. No word on when the Sempowich case could go to trial. I have reached out to Tactile Systems Technology and their attorney. They have not yet responded with a comment.