Baldwin-Whitehall teachers sue district over pay

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Three Baldwin-Whitehall School District teachers, all women, sued their employer today in U.S. District Court, saying that when they were hired a decade ago their experience was not weighted as heavily as that of male hires.

Holly Niemi, 36, of East Allegheny, Katherine Musselman, 34, of Swissvale and Donna Vecchio, 51, of Canonsburg, claim in the lawsuit that the district, in assigning them to steps on the pay scale, violated the federal Equal Pay Act. All want back pay and to be assigned to steps on the scale that reflect where they would be if they were treated fairly upon their initial hire.

"We have found evidence that the district hired men who are performing substantially similar work and were hired at more favorable pay steps than the plaintiffs were, than these women were," said their attorney, Colleen Ramage Johnston. “They didn’t get credit for their full prior experience.

“The district will have to explain the basis for its decision to treat men and women differently in their decisions to recognize prior teaching experience for pay credit purposes," she added. “We want to have the practice stopped.”

According to the complaint, Ms. Vecchio, a high school math teacher, had 13 years of public school teaching experience in and out of Pennsylvania, plus four years in private schools, but was placed on step three of the pay scale, reflecting two years of experience.

Ms. Niemi, who teaches languages, had five years of out-of-state teaching experience and a year as a long-term substitute prior to being hired by Baldwin-Whitehall but was assigned a pay grade reflecting three years of experience, according to the lawsuit.

Ms. Musselman, a high school English teacher, had two years of out-of-state teaching experience but was assigned to the lowest step for rookie teachers, according to the complaint.

The district gave male hires more credit for their experience, according to the complaint.

Baldwin-Whitehall superintendent Randy Lutz could not be reached for immediate comment.


Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1542. Twitter: @richelord.

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