Women allege pay discrimination at YMCA

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The YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh pays men more than women of equal or higher rank, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday by four female managers at the nonprofit social agency.

"These organizations are put in place and they push as their agenda the fact that they want to eliminate discrimination and they want to create a fairer society," said the women's attorney, Samuel Cordes. "But you have to look in your own house first."

Mr. Cordes represents YMCA vice president of marketing and communications Deborah L. Moore Ellsworth, 41, of Beechview; associate vice president of human resources and leadership Diane Dennison, 41, of Ross; director of donor relations and special events Sonya Shumway, 56, of McCandless; and director Margaret O'Brien, 54, of Bethel Park.

Their complaint in U.S. District Court said that the YMCA uses a tool called the Hays Methodology to measure the skill, responsibility and effort of its employees and place them into categories that should determine their pay. The plaintiffs' Hays scores were comparable to, or higher than, those of male executives who were nonetheless paid more, the suit said.

Ms. Moore Ellsworth, for example, earns $80,694 as a vice president, but the YMCA paid two lower-ranked male associate vice presidents $87,443 and $84,999. Two male vice presidents, meanwhile, earned $120,102 and $106,238, respectively.

"The YMCA has already said that these people are doing comparable work" based on their Hays scores, said Mr. Cordes. The women "are losing a significant amount of money just because they are not men. What you're creating is second-class citizens in that workplace."

The YMCA "is a strong advocate for equality and strictly follows a policy of nondiscrimination in all employment policies, practices and other aspects of employment," wrote Stephan C. Davis, the agency's senior vice president of human resources and leadership, in an email response to questions.

The lawsuit, under the Equal Pay Act of 1963, asks that the YMCA be enjoined from pay discrimination, pay the employees what they would have received had there been no discrimination, and award interest, compensatory and punitive damages and legal costs and fees.

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


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