Maine hospital must pay $181K to psychologist for unequal pay, judge rules

Northern Light Acadia Hospital in Bangor, Maine, owes a psychologist nearly $181,000 in back pay, damages and interest related to her claim of gender-based pay discrimination in violation of the state's equal pay law, according to the Bangor Daily News.

The May 10 decision came from Judge Lance Walker of the U.S. District Court in Maine.

His ruling, which was shared with Becker's, ordered the psychiatric hospital to pay damages in the amount of $180,955.90. This includes $57,916 in unpaid wages and $115,832 in liquidated damages.

"I also find that [the psychologist's] requested interest of $7,207.90 is 'reasonable' as called for by the Maine Equal Pay Law," Mr. Walker wrote.

In a statement shared with Becker's, Northern Light Acadia said it asked the court to correct a misstatement in the court's language "which suggested to the reader that our appeal was limited to the damages issue — the motion for reconsideration was granted."   

The hospital said it is appealing the court's decision on the plaintiff's Equal Pay Act claim and is seeking to have the decision dismissed.

The May 10 ruling came after Clare Mundell, PhD, sued the hospital Jan. 5, 2021, alleging unequal pay, sex discrimination and retaliation. The lawsuit said that two years after Dr. Mundell started working at the hospital in 2017 as a pool psychologist, she learned she and other female pool psychologists earned $50 an hour, while two of her male colleagues earned $90 and $95 per hour. 

On Feb. 8, Mr. Walker ruled in favor of Dr. Mundell, who no longer works at the hospital, saying she is entitled to back pay for the period she was "unlawfully underpaid" by the psychiatric hospital. He also wrote that she is entitled to liquidated damages.

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