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


CHICAGO — 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.

“This isn’t just about reporters wanting more money,” said Michael Morrison, an attorney representing the Tribune reporters. “This is about equality and fairness.”

The lawsuit says the Tribune employs highly-regarded journalists with individualized talents, experiences, and contributions, but across each section of the company’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 accuses the newspaper of relying 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 colleagues performing the same work.

“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,” it says.

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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