Four women journalists file lawsuit against Free Press over equal pay

- The Detroit Free Press is being sued for paying women less than their male counterparts.

Four female journalists claim they've been underpaid despite doing the same work and being just as qualified. The highly skilled and talented women have been awarded and recognized for their work at the paper that in some cases, dates back to the 1980s.

They say they just want to be treated fairly.

"We know that these are old attitudes that seem to just continue from decade to decade to decade," said attorney Deborah Gordon.

And according to Gordon, a labor and civil rights attorney, it is still going on at the Detroit Free Press.

She says four female journalists went to their newspaper guild and complained about the difference in pay when it comes to how much men and women make.

According to three years of data gathered by guild, they were right.

"For example, for all assistant editors - the same job title, the same job responsibilities - the median wage for men is $7.65 more," Gordon said. "We know that for photographers - same job duties - the median wage is $4 more or higher."

Gordon claims the union brought the pay discrepancies to the Free Press and its parent company Gannett last year, and the paper did not take action.

So photographers Kathleen Galligan, Mary Schroeder, Rose Ann McKean and Regina Bone feel they had no choice but to file a federal lawsuit - under the equal pay act.

The law requires men and women in the same work place be given equal pay for equal work.

"It is a demoralizing thing to show up for work every day feel like what you are doing is not being recognized," Gordon said. "We know not everybody is going to make what they want, but you at least want to be paid what the guy next to you is being paid, for the same work."

The lawsuit also claims sex discrimination under the Elliott - Larsen Civil Rights Act. The women are fighting for fair pay rates and back pay they claim they were cheated out of, proven by the union's three year study.

"This is the same job title," Gordon said. "We see the distinction and we have heard about it for years out of all forms of media, Hollywood, TV, print. Why don’t the corporate entities look at this and say we are going to make this right."

In response to this lawsuit, Peter Bhatia, who was recently named the editor of the Free Press issued this statement:

"The Detroit Free Press -- which has a long standing commitment to supporting equal employment opportunities for all employees -- believes the claims asserted have no merit."

The women believe those numbers speak for themselves. The women are terrified of retribution but felt enough was enough.

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