The Nassau Legislature has approved a nearly $2.5 million settlement with 30 current or retired male 911 operators who alleged in a federal lawsuit that they were paid less than female counterparts.
The plaintiffs, who are members of the Civil Service Employees Association, argued they were owed back pay from 1999 to the present, largely for step increases never awarded.
The 911 operators will receive lump sum payments ranging from $22,000 for a worker with 11 years on the job to $157,000 for an employee with more than 30 years of experience.
“I think it was a very fair and appropriate amount that equalized the salaries for these individuals,” said their attorney, Louis Stober Jr. of Garden City.
Nassau County Attorney Carnell Foskey called the settlement “fair and just.”
Nassau will pay the $2.48 million agreement out of a new $20 million fund in the 2016 budget that will be used to pay most county lawsuits.
The county legislature’s 12 Republican members unanimously approved the settlement on Monday.
The seven Democrats abstained, saying they had not received information on the case in a timely manner. However, Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said, “gender should never be a basis for why someone makes more or less than their peers and the county doing anything differently is deplorable.”
Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) declined to comment.
The male operators had piggybacked on a class action suit filed in 2005 on behalf of 150 female Nassau 911 operators and supervisors who said they were paid less than county fire communications operators — nearly all of them men — in violation of the New York State Equal Pay Act. In 2011, the women reached a $7 million settlement with Nassau that increased their salaries above those of male operators.
“This should have been settled in 2005 when the [females’] case was filed,” said Gary Volpe, CSEA unit president for the 911 operators and a lead plaintiff in the case who will get about $120,000. “It would have cost them way less than half this amount and most likely would not have proceeded to federal court.”
A county spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
The county has about 170 911 operators, and about 80 percent are female.