(AP) — Two teenagers whose firing from a Kansas pizza restaurant prompted a national discussion on pay inequality should receive back pay and the corporation that owned the restaurant must implement policies to ensure it follows equal pay laws, a federal judge ruled Thursday.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued last year on behalf of Jensen Walcott and Jake Reed, who were 17 when they applied to work at a Pizza Studio restaurant in Kansas City, Kansas. The Bonner Springs friends were hired for the same job but Jensen later discovered Reed was going to be paid 25 cents more per hour. When she complained, the manager said it was against company policy to discuss wages and withdrew the job offers.
The controversy drew the attention of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign, and Reed and Walcott were invited to address the Democratic National Convention about pay inequality.
The pizza chain later dismissed the female manager and offered the teens their jobs back, with equal pay, but they had found other jobs.
A federal judge on Thursday ordered PS Holding LLC to pay Reed and Walcott $2,500 each in back pay and other compensation. The judge also ordered the Delaware-based company to implement new policies and conduct training to avoid violating the federal Equal Pay Act. The company also must collect, analyze and report data and complaints to the EEOC. PS Holding no longer owns the Kansas City restaurant but owns other Pizza Studio restaurants across the country.
A phone call to the Pizza Studio’s corporate headquarters was not immediately returned Thursday.
The Equal Pay Act makes it illegal to pay men and woman unequally for the same job, and prohibits retaliation against an employee who complains.