Talonya Adams, a lawyer who used to work as a policy adviser in the Senate’s Democratic Caucus in Arizona, filed a racial and gender discrimination lawsuit against her employer claiming that she was fired because she questioned why her salary was lower than her counterpart who is a white male. She represented herself in court and was recently awarded $1 million.
In 2015, Adams apparently discovered through a legislative report published by the Arizona Capitol Times that she earned almost $30,000 less than her counterpart who have the same duties as hers. She said she earned $60,000 a year and never got a raise, unlike her colleagues.
Adams complained about it to Democratic leaders and the Democrat’s chief of staff. Former Senate minority leader and now-Secretary of State Katie Hobbs replied that her complaint was inappropriate. After a few weeks, while Adams was on leave to take care of her child in Seattle who was sick, she was fired.
Adams appealed the decision in federal court, claiming that Hobbs violated the Civil Rights Act for firing her because she questioned the pay disparity. Senate attorneys, however, claimed that she couldn’t compare her salary with her Republican counterparts despite their similar job duties because “the majority caucus pays differently than the minority caucus.”
After a 4-day trial, the jury decided in favor of Adams and declared that she was indeed discriminated against because of her race and gender. She was awarded $1 million in compensatory damages, with more possibly coming after a hearing next month on punitive damages.