Gender Pay Equity Lawsuit filed under the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act

Elizabeth Rowe, the principal flutist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra is suing the organization for $200,000 in back pay.  The lawsuit, filed under the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act (MEPA) in July, alleges that she should be given equal pay for equal work and that she should make as much as the male principal oboist, John Ferillo, who makes about $70,000 more than her annually.

The BSO released statement defending its pay structure, citing that the difficulty of playing an oboe is greater than that of playing a flute and that there is a more limited pool of oboists, both of which contributed to the differences in pay. 

However, the lawsuit alleges that Ms. Rowe and Mr. Ferillo are both “leaders of the orchestra in similarly demanding artistic roles.”  Ms. Rowe has been featured more than any other principal player and is often prominent in marketing campaigns.  Mr. Ferillo has supported Ms. Rowe, even stating that she is “every bit my match in skills, if not more so.”

A variety of prominent pay equity topics are featured in the lawsuit: the suit alleges retaliation by BSO when they rescinded an invitation interview to Ms. Rowe for a National Geographic Documentary by host Katie Couric for planning to talk about salary discrimination, inappropriate use of salary history as a determinant in pay, and a failure to give Ms. Rowe the same automatic pay increases that Mr. Ferillo and some other male counterparts received.

DCI will continue to follow this case and provide insights as to how it could impact the future of pay equity cases.

For more, please see the following articles:

Alexander Hsu, M.A., HR Analyst at DCI Consulting Group

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