By Tessa Roy, WPRO News
Paula Borrelli said when she found out her male coworker at Newport Grand Casino was being paid more than she was for doing the same work, she asked to be paid equally. Now, she and the Rhode Island ACLU are suing after she said the casino denied her request without explanation.
“I just held myself together. I was falling apart inside because I was disgusted,” Borrelli said. “I was thinking they were building me up over these months thinking to myself that they’re working on it and this is it. And the answer was ‘we’re doing nothing.'”
The ACLU said in the suit, it argues that “the Casino’s actions violate a host of federal and state laws banning workplace discrimination on the basis of sex and age, including a state law banning ‘wage discrimination based on sex.'”
“Ms. Borrelli’s case epitomizes both the deeply-ingrained problem of wage discrimination that too many women routinely face and the need for stronger, not weaker, protections in the law to address this discrimination,” said RI ACLU Executive Director Steven Brown in a statement. “That is why, although we rarely handle employment discrimination cases in the private sector, we felt it important to get involved in the case and help bring attention to this important issue.”
Borrelli said she started at Newport Grand in 2007 and was eventually promoted to her current job as a night manager. She said she found out about her male colleague’s higher salary during a human resources meeting in December 2016 and immediately asked to be paid equally, but was denied in May of last year.
Borrelli said her male colleague had been working at the casino for about a year and a half longer than she was and like her, worked his way up in the company. However, she believes his pay was being increased while hers was not.
She adds that she had to train a brand new, younger employee whose starting salary was higher than her own. She feels the pay discrepancies are discriminatory, and believes there are others at Newport Grand who are in similar situations.
Borrelli said her two coworkers involved were just as surprised about the situation as she was and have been supportive of her case. She is seeking unspecified damages and back pay from the casino.
A spokeswoman for Newport Grand said the casino does not comment on personnel matters.