An instructional supervisor is suing the Roanoke County School Board for sex-based wage discrimination, alleging that the county school system pays her less than male employees in the same position.
Strelka Employment Law Sues Roanoke County Schools for Sex-Based Wage Discrimination
Tommy was recently interviewed by the Roanoke Times regarding the case of Barnett v. Roanoke County School Board, a Title VII case regarding disparate pay on the basis of gender filed in U.S. District Court in the Western District of Virginia. Instructional Supervisor of Science, Erin Barnett, discovered that she was paid less than a similarly situated male employee in charge of physical education. The school system has had ample notice to fix the salary gap, but repeatedly refused to do so prompting the litigation, an expense to Roanoke County taxpayers. When asked whether he was surprised by Roanoke County Schools' decision to pay the male employee more, Tommy responded that he was not surprised. "I'm not surprised because I attended Roanoke County Public Schools. It is no surprise to me and likely many others that Roanoke County Public Schools emphasizes dodgeballs over science." The article is posted below:
Roanoke County educator sues school board over pay disparity, alleging sex-based
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, says there is “no legitimate reason” for the school system to pay Roanoke County Public Schools Supervisor of Science Erin Barnett less than her “similarly situated” male colleagues.
Barnett makes $258.45 per day, while a male supervisor of physical education, Kevin Burcham, makes $284.55 per day, the complaint states.
Barnett is seeking equitable pay, compensatory damages, back pay, front pay, prejudgement interest and attorney fees.
Barnett’s lawyer, Thomas Strelka, said in an interview that the school system has been aware of the pay differential.
“Is that not a disservice to the students and the taxpayers of Roanoke County?” he asked.
Roanoke County schools hired Barnett in 2006 as a science teacher. In 2018, Barnett was promoted and became the division’s supervisor of science. As a teacher she earned $62,040; she received $48,533 in base pay, plus additional compensation for serving as a department chair and teaching online and summer school courses, according to the complaint.
Also in 2018, the division promoted Burcham to supervisor of physical education. Though Barnett’s position “required her to perform a more demanding role” and “required a mastery of much more sophisticated technical knowledge than the position of Supervisor of Physical Education,” the division made an initial offer to Burcham of $62,601.84 and allowed him to continue to receive an additional $3,900 coaching stipend, according to the complaint. Burcham’s contract is also 20 days shorter than Barnett’s.
Bradshaw informed Barnett two days after their meeting that the school division would not adjust her salary.
The division’s position has been that “differences in experience for educational, extracurricular, and after school activities” are considered when making salary decision, according to the complaint.
Barnett filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in January. That was dismissed, which Strelka said is a common occurrence.
Strelka said Thursday that the lawsuit is about the school system, not about Burcham or other male employees. Barnett is friends with Burcham, which is how she first discovered the pay disparity, Strelka said.
“All the blame lies at the feet of Roanoke County Public Schools,” he said.
“It just boils my blood,” he said.