Bechtel settles gender pay claims with $200,000 payment

 Dive Brief:

  • Bechtel’s Oil Gas & Chemicals division has entered into a conciliation agreement with the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs and will pay $200,000 in back pay and interest to settle allegations of compensation discrimination at its Houston office.
  • The OFCCP found that Bechtel discriminated against 22 female employees by paying them less than male employees in similar positions — 12 with the civil, structural and architectural engineer job title and 10 with job titles including control systems engineer supervisor II, electrical senior engineer I, project engineering senior engineer I and senior package equipment engineer. Bechtel, the country’s top contractor by revenue, will also pay $50,000 in salary adjustments to female employees with these job titles. 
  • Bechtel denies all allegations but has agreed to resolve the claims in exchange for the OFCCP’s agreement not to institute administrative or judicial enforcement proceedings. The OFCCP may do so, however, if Bechtel violates the terms of the agreement.

Dive Insight:

Individuals collecting money as part of the OFCCP’s investigation also signed a release acknowledging Bechtel’s assertion that it did not violate any laws regarding gender-based pay discrimination and agreed not to sue Bechtel. In addition to financial remedies, Bechtel must also:

  • Submit a progress report to the OFCCP on compliance with the requirements of the agreement.
  • Document and retain records for all payments made under the agreement.
  • Document revised compensation policies.

Overall, the gender pay gap in the construction industry is much less than the gap across all U.S. industries. While women generally earn about 81.1% of what their male counterparts do, women in construction earn 99.1% of what men make, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But as in the Bechtel case, there are still industry areas where women struggle to earn as much as men in the same position.

The Brookings Institution reported recently that the pay gap for women in infrastructure positions is greater than it is for the construction industry in general. The analysis comes at a time when President Joe Biden’s administration is pushing for an almost $2 trillion infrastructure spending program.

According to Brookings, female civil engineers make 81% of what their male counterparts make. Transportation, storage and distribution managers and logisticians make 91%; laborers and freight, stock and material movers make 88%; and full-time wage and salary workers make 82%.

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