Fresno County schools employee sues for equal pay

The Fresno BeeFebruary 5, 2014 

Eileen Rizo

COURTESY PHOTO

A Fresno County education employee fighting for equal pay in the workplace is taking her case to court.

In the civil suit filed in Fresno County Superior Court this week, Aileen Rizo, a 39-year-old math consultant at the Fresno County Office of Education, alleges she's unfairly paid thousands of dollars less than her male co-workers with the same job title.

"I feel kind of humiliated because I know everyone knows I'm not getting paid the same," she said. "I know my work is valuable, but it doesn't show in the pay I'm bringing home."

According to the suit, Rizo had 13 years of experience when she left a job in Arizona to take her current position in 2009. She was placed on the first step of the office's pay scale, the suit says, and has been working her way up since. She's currently at step five.

Rizo first submitted an internal complaint when she discovered her recently hired male colleague was placed at step nine. The lawsuit says the county office rebuffed her concerns and stood by its salary policy.

When asked to respond to the lawsuit, county schools superintendent Jim Yovino issued a statement that affirmed his support for gender equality in the workplace.

Yovino said a majority of his top administrators members are women and that the county has received an award for its commitment to fair employment practices.

"We continually review our policies to ensure that we are treating all employees equally and with respect," he said. "Our policies do not discriminate on any basis."

Rizo's story made national news in January, when she appeared on the NBC Nightly News. The Bee first reported on her story when she filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, which gave her a nod to file a lawsuit back in December.

The mother of two is seeking back pay and compensation for benefits she's lost over the years. She also wants an unspecified amount in damages for legal fees and emotional distress she says she's experienced.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6412, hfurfaro@fresnobee.com or @hannahfurfaro on Twitter.

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