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City council discusses gender discrimination

Despite the many progressions in employment equity, the argument that women have to work twice as hard to make just as much as their male counterparts is an age old argument that may simply never fade out.

For the Bloomfield, New Jersey city council, this argument became an agenda item recently. A councilman said women employed by the city were being discriminated against by being paid less than their male peers. He raised the issue of gender discrimination, hoping to see some changes. Though the issue was discussed, a consensus was not reached at that meeting.

The councilman offered a motion to the table to consider pay raises for women employed by the city. He stated the issue was "systemic" and that it is always the women that are affected by this issue. While his fellow councilors applauded him for shedding light on the issue, no other council member provided a second to his motion. As such, the matter did not come before the council for a vote.

The mayor of this New Jersey city said he did not believe the city can arbitrarily hand out raises based on gender. The councilman offering the motion cited a list of examples where women working for the city did not receive raises when their male peers did. He cited examples of male-dominated fields such as fire and police departments receiving raises when the secretaries' union did not, in addition to other examples. The only two women councilors at the table did not address any of those issues.

While the two women councilors present did not address the concerns during the meeting, one later told a local newspaper the issue needs to be examined on a case-by-case basis. She suggested raises should be based on performance, as opposed to being gender-based. It remains to be seen how the city of Bloomfield will handle the issue now that it has been raised and whether legal issues will stem from the mentioned examples of possible gender discrimination.

Source: NorthJersey.com, "Councilman: Female employees in Bloomfield face discrimination," Jeff Frankel, Oct. 13, 2011

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