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Chicago Tribune staffers’ unequal pay lawsuit claims race and sex discrimination

CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Tribune is being sued by some of its staffers, who say they and other women and Black journalists are being paid less than their white male counterparts.

The complaint filed Thursday in federal court in Chicago also names Tribune Publishing Co. and Alden Global Capital, which took control of the Tribune in 2021.

Attorneys for the seven plaintiffs want class-action status, a jury trial and a permanent injunction against unequal pay based on sex and race discrimination. It also seeks all the back pay that affected employees should have received had they been paid the same as white males in similar jobs.

“The Chicago Tribune employs some of the most highly-regarded journalists in the nation, with individualized talents, experiences, and contributions to our national conversation,” according to the lawsuit. “However, one thing remains consistent across each section of the Chicago Tribune’s news operation — women and African American employees are underpaid by several thousands of dollars a year compared to their male and white counterparts.”

The lawsuit also alleges that the newspaper relied on diversity recruitment programs “as a source of cheap labor to depress the salaries of women and minority journalists.” It says talented, mostly women and minority journalists are hired into temporary year-long positions where they are paid significantly less than their colleagues performing the same work.

“Defendants also intentionally hire women and African American employees from suburban newspapers — including ones they own — that they know pay much lower salaries than major newspapers,” the lawsuit said. “White employees, particularly white male employees, on the other hand, are more often recruited from other major news organizations and are offered higher salaries as a means to induce them to accept employment with defendants.”

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Earlier this year, 76 Tribune reporters, photographers and editors joined staff at six other newsrooms around the nation in a 24-hour strike demanding fair wages and protesting what they called the slow pace of contract negotiations.

Mitch Pugh, the Chicago Tribune’s executive editor, responded to an email by directing all inquiries to Goldin Solutions, a New York-based marketing firm that advertises crisis management and litigation support. The Associated Press sent a message to Goldin Solutions on Friday seeking comment.

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Felecia Phillips Ollie DD (h.c.) is the inspiring leader and founder of The Equality Network LLC (TEN). With a background in coaching, travel, and a career in news, Felecia brings a unique perspective to promoting diversity and inclusion. Holding a Bachelor's Degree in English/Communications, she is passionate about creating a more inclusive future. From graduating from Mississippi Valley State University to leading initiatives like the Washington State Department of Ecology’s Equal Employment Opportunity Program, Felecia is dedicated to making a positive impact. Join her journey on our blog as she shares insights and leads the charge for equity through The Equality Network.

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