Spin Cycle

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Facing the threat of daily fines by a federal court judge, Nassau has paid a $13,200 bill to a financial consulting firm that helped negotiate a $7 million settlement for female 911 operators.

County Attorney John Ciampoli said Nassau made the payment to APT Metrics earlier this week, finally ending a 2005 federal lawsuit in which 150 female operators and supervisors claimed they were paid significantly less than men performing similar work.

U.S. District Court Judge Kathleen Tomlinson had threatened to impose a $250-per-day fine on the county beginning on Aug. 10 until it paid the APT's bill.

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Ciampoli said a penalty has not yet been assessed and "hopefully the court will reconsider whether to fine the county." Ciampoli blamed the delay on confusion with the county comptroller's office since APT had two contracts with the county, one of which had already been paid.

Another consulting firm involved in the settlement, Abigail Pessen Dispute Resolution Services, received its $18,627 fee from the county several weeks ago.

The two consulting firms had agreed to forgo payment from the settlement escrow fund when the county mistakenly excluded several employees from the initial back pay award, said Janice Goodman, the 911 operators' attorney in the case. The awards to those four employees totaled $123,542, draining a large portion of the escrow fund, Goodman said.

The 911 operators agreed to their settlement agreement in January. After the end of the equal pay suit, 30 current or retired male 911 operators  filed their own federal class action lawsuit against Nassau, alleging they are now being paid significantly less than their female counterparts. The male plaintiffs want about $2.8 million in back pay from 1999 to the present.