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3 Baldwin-Whitehall teachers claim discrimination

| Friday, April 11, 2014, 2:44 p.m.

Baldwin-Whitehall School District put three female teachers lower on the pay scale than their male counterparts by giving them less credit for prior experience, the teachers claim in a federal lawsuit filed on Friday.

The district hired Holly Niemi, 37, of East Allegheny, Katherine Musselman, 36, of Swissvale and Donna Vecchio, 52, of North Strabane during the 2004-05 school year, said their lawyer, Colleen Ramage Johnston.

They don't know whether the year they were hired is a factor in their treatment, she said.

“We're going to find out,” Johnston said.

Superintendent Randal Lutz couldn't be reached for comment.

The district gave Niemi credit for three of her six years of teaching. Musselman got no credit for her two years of teaching and Vecchio received credit for two of her 17 years of teaching, the lawsuit says.

Their experience included teaching in public schools in other states, and public and private schools in Pennsylvania. Though districts give different credits for that type of experience, Baldwin-Whitehall gave more credit to male teachers with the same mixes of experience, Johnston said.

“We believe that the men we are aware of were given more favorable treatment and pay credit for their experience, which is comparable to the women in this lawsuit,” Johnston said.

The teachers want a judge to order the district to move them up to the same position on the pay scale as comparable male counterparts and award back pay.

The Equal Pay Act doesn't have a statute of limitations as long as the discrimination is continuing, but the teachers could recover lost wages only for up to the past three years, Johnston said.

Brian Bowling is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-325-4301 or bbowling@tribweb.com.

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