By Nicole Taliercio
SFC’s very own Anne Bove has paved the pathway in fighting for equal pay among nurses who have been discriminated against.
Anne Bove, SFC nursing professor, New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) Board Member, and one of the plaintiffs in the case played a vital role in the victory of a law suit that resulted in a 20.8 million dollar settlement.
In 2004, Bove learned that the City of New York had a pension benefit called “physically taxing”, which allows employees who work in jobs defined as “physically demanding” to retire early and collect pension.
To Bove’s disbelief, she learned that the career of nursing was not listed as “physically taxing”, which she felt was extremely unsettling due to the category of the job.
“This was a great historical injustice against nurses and though the past cannot be changed, it is high time that the injustice be recognized and that affected nurses are at least compensated for being excluded from earning the same pension rights that other workers in physically taxing jobs received solely on the basis of sex,” she said.
According to the NYSNA, the settlement was based on a sex discrimination complaint filed by NYSNA and four NYSNA-represented public sector nurses a decade ago after the City of New York repeatedly refused to recognize that the overwhelmingly female nursing workforce performs “physically taxing” work and is thereby entitled to equal treatment with the dozens of predominantly male job titles that are formally included on the list.
The professions categorized as “physically taxing” were male dominant – an indicator of the lack of equality for women in this specific benefit plan.
Bove took the leadership role to bring this matter to light and she was denied twice by the City of New York to make nursing a physically taxing career.
She then raised this issue to City Council, where it almost passed except for one vote.
Although this was a setback, Bove continued to push this issue and went to the State Legislature, which, once again, missed by one vote.
Bove knew that she would need more support and therefore asked the union to get involved.
In 2008, she filed a formal charge with the United States Equal Opportunity Employment Commission accusing the City of New York discriminated against nurses on the basis of sex due to the fact that registered nursing were not on the “physically taxing” list.
Bove was able to get 1,000 nurses to file complaints against the City of New York, and it finally ruled in their favor.
The Department of Justice took the case, litigated it, and came to a settlement with the City of New York.
Although this pension “physically taxing” no longer existed, these nurses were faced with a disservice.
As a result, the City of New York will have to distribute 20 million dollars to over 1,000 nurses who fall under a specific category that are eligible to receive money.
By March of 2019, the case will be settled and money will be distributed to over 1,000 registered nurses.
Professor Bove spent over 14 years on this case to fight for equal pay.
She said, “This case took 14 years but this decision shows a step forward to equal work for women.”
Professor Bove has become an exemplary figure for nurses and nursing students alike.
She became aware of an injustice and led the way to fight for the rights that nurses deserved.
We can take her acts of courage, patience and leadership and tell ourselves that we too can make a change in the world if we are passionate enough to do so.