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Clark County diversity chief awaits $80,000 discrimination settlement

Clark County’s diversity director appears poised for an $80,636 payday from her employer after the U.S. Department of Justice filed a wage discrimination lawsuit on her behalf against the county.

Therese Scupi, a black woman, had alleged pay inequities and employment bias due to gender and race. For more than a decade, she has worked at the department, which is in charge of overseeing county policies that forbid discrimination.

A proposed settlement on Tuesday’s County Commission agenda would give Scupi a one-time compensatory damage payment of $80,636. The deal, which commissioners will consider, would require Scupi to leave her county job.

Settling the case is about more than money. More federal oversight of the county’s discrimination matters is also part of the proposed agreement.

Scupi was hired by the county in 1999 as a human resources analyst and promoted to diversity director in 2002.

She alleged that as a director, she was unfairly paid less than other county administrators. Scupi started as director with a salary of $70,185 in a job with a pay range of $68,265 to $105,788, according to the lawsuit. By comparison, the lawsuit claims, three other directors, two white males and one white female, made salaries between $89,980 and $94,993.

Scupi first complained in 2006 and filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2007. She alleges that after filing the complaint, her responsibilities started diminishing in retaliation, and she was excluded from meetings about equal employment opportunity issues.

The proposal calls for the county to proactively disseminate its Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Plan to its employees, and train supervisors and administrators about federal prohibitions against discrimination.

The county also would be required to report to the U.S. Department of Justice all pay discrimination allegations from county management-level staff.

The $80,636 payment isn’t the only money in the proposal. The county also would increase Scupi’s salary and pay her retroactively for the shortfalls of the past three years.

Clark County on Thursday refused to provide any dollar figures about what the retroactive increase to her salary would be.

“We decline to comment,” said spokesman Erik Pappa, without elaborating.

The county’s agenda information only gives the one-time compensatory damage payment of $80,636, without providing any information on the size of the retroactive salary increases.

Scupi’s base salary is $106,704, according to county data. In 2013, she received another $18,335 in other payment types beyond the base salary, which included a $6,000 annual vehicle allowance, county records show.

County staff recommend the settlement to avoid the costs of a trial, county records show.

But back in April, when the lawsuit was first filed, county officials appeared eager to defend it.

“We believe her claims are totally without merit and we look forward to proving our case in court,” the county said at the time.

Contact Ben Botkin at bbotkin @reviewjournal.com or 702-405-9781. Find him on Twitter: @BenBotkin1.

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