Lauderhill Commissioner Belittles Idea That Women Get Less Pay For Same Work






Howard Berger has been on the Lauderhill City Commission since 1984.


Howard BergerHoward Berger


But his thoughts in the following discussion reflect ideas more acceptable in 1894.

Below are the verbatim minutes are from Monday’s meeting of the Lauderhill Commission. I can’t even imagine what foolishness is coming from the mouths of commissioners in the other cities that the Old Media, i.e., the Sun-Sentinel, doesn’t cover any more.





MAYOR KAPLAN: Commissioner Berger, you pulled this.

COMMIRRIONSER BERGER: Yes, thank you. I will tell you why I pulled it, because I know this is an issue that’s come up now nationally, and people are debating on the national stage. But let me just start by saying the Equal Pay Act of 1963, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does make paying women less for equal work illegal. As a matter of fact, let me just tell you some of the penalties under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. An employer who wasfound guilty of pay discrimination could be charged with back pay, attorney’s fees, injunctive relief, prejudgment interest, $300,000 in punitive and compensatory damages, an additional $10,000 in penalties, and even a prison sentence up to six months, and that’s for an employer who wilfully violates the law. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t believe that men and women should get paid equally for the work they do if it’s the same job, and they’ve been in the job the same length of time. But, again, as noted, remedies for wage discrimination are abundant in the law. The Lilly Ledbetter Act that I believe a lot of the other laws that have come before this, I feel, can really be detrimental, in the sense that it would sidetrack business from their main mission by implementing law regulation to track discrimination that is already illegal under both the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII Civil Rights Act. And I think that what we need to do is not get into a climate where we are making sex discrimination lawsuits when the facts are dubious to be financially attractive, and this lead to frivolous lawsuits. We need sensible laws that do address the issue. Basically, that’s what I have to say, and I just want to say one thing about that 77 percent gap in parody (sic)between men and women, which I think is misleading, because it doesn’t take into factor many of the choices that women make when they go into a particular profession or job where they try to balance their occupation with their families. We know that men generally do work more overtime than women do. Many women do choose professions like social work and teaching that does pay less than the jobs men pick, like engineering. Men, a lot of times, will forego the undesirable environment of a job in exchange for higher wages. So women, many times, will take time off from work in order rear children. So when you take that into consideration, you factor in those variables, that 77 percent gap really does not exist at all. Basically, that’s it and, what can I say.

MAYOR KAPLAN: You’re absolutely serious about what you just said? You absolutely mean it?


MAYOR KAPLAN: You absolutely mean what you just said?

COMMISSIONER BERGER: What don’t you think I’m that serious about?

MAYOR KAPLAN: No, no, I just want to make sure, you absolutely mean exactly what you just said?



MAYOR KAPLAN: It’s factual?


COMMISSIONER BERGER: It’s very factual.

MAYOR KAPLAN: Okay, I’ll leave it at that.


COMMISSIONER BERGER: Well, I didn’t make it up.

MAYOR KAPLAN: I’m sure you didn’t.

COMMISSIONER BERGER: I did not make it up, so I don’t understand what do you mean: am I serious. I don’t understand that question. I don’t understand that question.

MAYOR KAPLAN: I’m not going to get into a debate over this one. This just doesn’t — do you want to say anything? Is the sponsor of this — oh, I’m sorry, Mr. Benson.


MAYOR KAPLAN: I will let you go on this one.


MAYOR KAPLAN: I thought Commissioner Bates would like to —

COMMISSIONER BENSON: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Commissioner Berger, I respect the fact that you have opinions from time to time that tend to run against what one would consider to be the natural flow of things. But for you to make those comments that you made tonight, in my opinion, tends to degrade and belittle the concept of equal pay for equal work. For having — for your having made such a comment suggests to me that I probably should let it rest on just what it says and the implications of it, let that be determined by the folks who have heard it. I know that what you just said is just not true. The history of this unequal pay for the same level of work can go back in time to specifically World War II, and because I happened to have been around during that time. There was a person called Rosie the Riveter, and Rosie the Riveter, when she was hired, and I say that to mean the generic of hiring females in the airplane construction, they were specifically hired at 65 percent less than men doing the same thing. They were not hired to go into social work, they were not hired to go into the classroom, they were not hired to do those soft job that you are referring to in your observation, but rather to build the armaments necessary to keep this country safe, and to allow you to make the kinds of statements that you’re making now about what they did then. Really, I find it somewhat of a personal affront to me, because my history in the areas of equal access would suggest that I have just the complete opposite opinion, which is diametrically opposed to what you’ve just said. At some time, you and I can sit across the table and debate this issue ad nauseam if you wish to do that. Since we look like we’re going to get out of here early tonight, I really don’t want to go too much further than that. Thank you.

COMMISSIONER BERGER: Can I say one thing?

MAYOR KAPLAN: Commissioner Bates.

VICE MAYOR BATES: I really shouldn’t say anything right now, but I am. Commissioner Berger, I respect the fact that you have your own opinion. As a female, a woman that has worked since I was 18 years old, knowing that my male counterpart was getting more than I was just because he was male and I was female, and it was the belief that time that — and it still is in a sense, that the male is the head of the household, and it is his responsibility to bring home the bread and bacon per say. I was fortunate, in that when I got married, I wasworking, my husband and I shared the household responsibilities. My salary was less than his, he was in a different profession, but I was in banking. But the fact still remained that my pay was lower than a fellow person, fellow male person in banking, and it’s still true today. Now you can — when studies are done, and statistics are published, you have to realize, by reading the statistics, whether you are comparing apples to apples, or apples to oranges. In the example that you just gave, and, again, this is my opinion, was one of the most silliest analogies I have heard, and I could not believe that you, an intelligent man, could sit up on this dais and say that you are not in support of equal pay for women that’s doing the same work as a man in 2014. That’s just hard for me to believe.

COMMISSIONER BERGER: Let me answer that.

VICE MAYOR BATES: Again, you’re entitled to your opinion, and it’s not the first time that our opinions have differed, and I am quite certain that, as the years progress and both of us are on this Commission, this will probably happen again numerous more times. But I just am a little offended — not a little, I’m a lot offended, because if you and I are doing the same work, then you and I should be getting the same pay.

COMMISSIONER BERGER: I agree. I agree absolutely.

VICE MAYOR BATES: But that’s not what you just said.

COMMISSIONER BERGER: No, you misunderstood me.

VICE MAYOR BATES: No, I didn’t misunderstand — you must have misunderstood what you said. But equal pay is equal pay for equal work. You’re saying that that should not happen.

COMMISSIONER BERGER: That’s not what I said.

VICE MAYOR BATES: The example that Commissioner Benson just gave by Rosie the Riveter, that’s a prime example. It was during the war.


VICE MAYOR BATES: They were doing work — the females were doing work that men did, the men were at war, but they were getting paid less, so you’re telling me know that that’s not what you said?

COMMISSIONER BERGER: No, that’s not what I said.

VICE MAYOR BATES: Okay, then you’ve really thrown me for a loop, because it doesn’t make any sense.



COMMISSIONER BERGER: First of all, let me just say, and we’ll close this soon, I’m talking about the state of 2014, not what happened in World War II or World War I, and when I’m saying that, yes, the disparity over the years has greatly decreased. And I’m saying that

October 27, 2014, Commission Meeting 4

today, it would be hard to find a female engineer that makes less than a male engineer, but, yes, you’re going to find a female social worker that makes less than a male engineer. There are discrepancies, but the discrepancies are not always based on sex discrimination, there are other factors that are causing this lack of parody. It’s the choices people make when they choose a profession. Sometimes it could be economic times. There’s many reasons. The reasons are not always based upon discriminatory factors, that’s all I’m saying. And I’m —

VICE MAYOR BATES: So, I’m — you’re going around in circles, and you’re not making any sense.

MAYOR KAPLAN: I think that unless someone really feels a need to continue discussing it, I think enough damage has been done.

COMMISSIONER BERGER: Well, I don’t want to — I don’t want to be —

MAYOR KAPLAN: If you want to continue with your —

VICE MAYOR BATES: No. I’d rather move for a vote.

MAYOR KAPLAN: I have to allow him to continue, if he really wants to continue this line of discussion.

VICE MAYOR BATES: No, it’s really by himself.

MAYOR KAPLAN: If he wants to state it —

COMMISSIONER BERGER: Well, I’m — no, no, I’m —

MAYOR KAPLAN: If you want to continue doing it — I wouldn’t recommend it anymore, but if you want to continue, please do so. That’s your right.

COMMISSIONER BERGER: All I’m saying is that I do believe in sensible laws, and I believe, like everybody does, that there should be legal redress when somebody is treated with an injustice, I believe that very, very strongly. But I do not want to create a climate where we encourage frivolous lawsuits, where we make it very attractive for certain individuals to initiate a lawsuit for financial gain where the facts may be dubious, and where you have an overbearing government regulation that creates this type of climate. But don’t ever say that I don’t believe in equal pay, assuming the job is the same job, and the persons are working the same amount of time on the job. That’s all.

MAYOR KAPLAN: Howard, that’s all this resolution said in the first place.

VICE MAYOR BATES: That’s all this resolution says.

MAYOR KAPLAN: That’s all it ever said in the first place.

COMMISSIONER BERGER: No, that’s not what it says, you’re wrong. No, it has support for the Lilly Ledbetter Act, which had a lot of opposition in Congress for —

VICE MAYOR BATES: A lot of laws come through Congress that have opposition, and they come to a — they come to a conclusion, and this one was passed.

COMMISSIONER BERGER: That was passed, but there were people that did oppose it.



VICE MAYOR BATES: That doesn’t make any sense.

MAYOR KAPLAN: Howard, name a law in Congress that didn’t have somebody voting against it; just name one in the last 20 years.

COMMISSIONER BERGER: So if a member of Congress voices opposition –

COMMISSIONER THURSTON: Since the country began.
MAYOR KAPLAN: Oh, I’m sure we’ll find something if you look long enough. COMMISSIONER BERGER: All right, let’s vote.



MAYOR KAPLAN: Let’s move on.



MAYOR KAPLAN: We have a motion by Commissioner Thurston, second by Commissioner Bates. Open to the public. Very good, you just — anybody from the public?

FEMALE MEMBER OF THE PUBLIC: We want to get out early.

MAYOR KAPLAN: You know what — okay. I was wondering if I was going to move anything that much to say something. All right, public is closed. Roll call.

Commissioner Thurston made a motion to Approve Resolution #14R-10-247, seconded by Vice Mayor Bates. The vote was as follows:

Vice Mayor Bates Yes

Commissioner Benson Yes

Commissioner Berger No

Commissioner Thurston Yes

Mayor Kaplan Yes

Passes 4-1.


PolitiFact Florida dealt with the issue of whether women get equal pay for the same job earlier this year. The results of their research is here. 

8 Responses to “Lauderhill Commissioner Belittles Idea That Women Get Less Pay For Same Work”

  1. Sam The Sham says:

    This, from the National Women’s Law Center website:

    “Women today are paid, on average, only 77 cents for every dollar paid to men. And the gap is even worse for women of color – African American women earn only 64 cents and Latina women earn only 55 cents for each dollar earned by males. To help address this unfair and unacceptable wage gap, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act on January 29, 2009,1 restoring the protection against pay discrimination that was stripped away by the Supreme Court’s decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.

    The Act reinstates prior law and makes clear that pay discrimination claims on the basis of sex, race, national origin, age, religion and disability “accrue” whenever an employee receives a discriminatory paycheck, as well as when a discriminatory pay decision or practice is adopted, when a person becomes subject to the decision or practice, or when a person is otherwise affected by the decision or practice. The law is retroactive to May 28, 2007, the day before the Court issued its ruling in Ledbetter.”

    I think Berger in-artfully stepped in it, not making his point clear. I think his objections were not to equal pay issues but to the 77% figure.

    I think it is not in the purview of the US government nor the Lauderhill commission to bring about parity (not parody) in the take home pay of all men and all women. It would be just as foolish to say that a ditch digger making minimum wage should get parity with the engineer who designed the underground utility project.

    It is within their purview to pay equally for the same job. Commissioner Bates stated that her pay as a banker is less than a man’s pay as a banker. Maybe and maybe not. If she is paid less, why is she not pursuing her rights under existing law? My guess is that she is prevaricating on this point.

  2. Patti Lynn says:

    The Lily Ledbetter act came about because Ms. Ledbetter discovered, at a time in which her “legal rights” to parity had expired, that she was being paid much less than a man doing the EXACT SAME JOB. As a woman who has been working for more than 55 years, the disparity in pay and opportunity still exists. Why don’t more women “…pursue their rights under existing law?…” perhaps because they really NEED the job and cannot afford to be fired. Sure, they may eventually win a lawsuit…but, as a single Mom, I knew that my children wouldn’t eat if I stood on principles…you can’t digest principles!!! In a “Right to Work” state, such as Florida, employees have minimal rights…unless they are represented by a Labor Union. Commissioner Berger has opened a can of worms that may be very costly to him. I am stunned by the ignorance of his remarks. It sounds like a boss that I once worked for. He said: “It’s not what’s between your ears, but what’s between your legs, that matters.” Welcome to FloriDuh.

  3. Val Lynn says:

    Buddy Nevins, thank you for publishing the entire transcript and not just the soundbite.

    While not stated succinctly, Commissioner Berger does not believe more regulation is needed. This appears to be his reason for opposition (regardless of his opinions on parity between gender and pay for equal work).

    It would have been more efficient for Mayor Kaplan to ask a more direct question (other than, “You absolutely mean what you just said?”) subsequent to Commissioner Berger’s initial statement, which only hints at C. Berger’s underlying reason for opposition.

    Sam the Sham, speaking to your opinion that Vice Mayor Bates is “prevaricating:” the lack of a lawsuit (or any appeal to authority to resolve a wrong) in the face of injustice (perceived or otherwise) is not evidence of no injustice.

    Lily Ledbetter herself is an example. She was wronged. She did not act in a timely manner according to then current law to address the wrong.

    That she did not act was not an indication that there was no wrong.

    In this first case, redress was the issue, not whether she was wronged, for the facts were clear that she was, indeed, wronged.

    The Lily Ledbetter Act recognizes that people may not stand up for their rights in a timely manner – and it extends the the timeframe during which they can.

    Finally, while it is possible that a person might make up stories or color the truth to promote an agenda, I believe I would have to take what Vice Mayor Bates said at face value and let it stand as anecdotal.

    It is not necessary for her to initiate a lawsuit to prove what she said happened. It is entirely possible that she is one more example of a person who chose not to use the courts for relief.

    Not everyone does.

    Had Commissioner Berger thought about that, his vote may have been different.

  4. Howard Berger says:

    Buddy It certainly was not my intent to have anyone think that I believe that gender pay parity always exist in the workplace. I only pointed out factors other than employer discrimination that could skew the gap. My main concern was not to create a climate encouraging frivolous lawsuits. The resolution appeared to be a trial lawyers dream. Any female worker with a valid pay grievance would certainly have me as a cheerleader in her corner when she seeks legal remedies.

  5. Crabgretch says:

    Since 1984, hmmmm…..times have changed, Commissioner Berger, you need to move on……….

  6. Becky Blackwood says:

    Because I was a woman in a non traditional career – construction, I can assure Mr. Berger there is pay discrimination in the work place today. There was at the School Board of Broward County when I worked there. First, I lost 3 years of retirement because I did not list my school construction experience on another form the School Board required.My resume was attached to the same form. I had to have that experience before I could even be interviewed for a Project Manager position. I had worked for Miami Dade County Schools. I appealed the loss of those three years but lost the appeal because I did not write it down on the form – the experience was still there. I have a Bachelors Degree in Architecture and a Masters Degree in Construction. I was never promoted to Building Official but set up the Building Department, worked with a computer tech to set up our inspection forms (previously, they were manually typed), got all of the inspectors under my supervision State Certified Inspector licenses, drew up the floor plans for our office when we were relocated, set up a code library. When I became Senior Supervisor of Inspections and Code Compliance, I had to work as the department’s part time secretary when my secretary was out sick or out to lunch or on vacation. I also was required to continue as a project manager for two more years while setting up the building department and was assigned to write the District’s standardized specifications in the evening. I was classified as an employee who had to work as many hours as was necessary (not hourly) to complete assignments by our Director. I was assigned to do the Needs Assessment for two school zones, South Broward and Cooper City and was told at the end of January I had to have these completed by May 1st or I would be fired. I was never paid for the additional 20-30 extra hours plus my required 37.5 hours a week I had to work to complete my daily responsibilities as well as the Needs Assessments. The Building Officials who were employed by the School Board during my employment there left the daily operations to me and were seldom in the office. After I was removed from my position and Building Official Lee Martin left, the other Senior Supervisor of Trades (who I had supervised for 4 years) was given the position of Temporary Building Official. He had a two year technical school certificate only, when a Bachelors degree in Architecture, Construction or Engineering was the minimum requirement. He also received a salary promotion of $20K, as well as the title. The School Board gave him 3 years to get the required Bachelors degree, paid for his textbooks, gave him a car to use plus paid for an outside vendor’s employee with the state license for a Building Official at $600 an hour to sign off the permits issued in the Building Department. In one of this Temporary Building Official’s first assignments, he paid over $900,000 to an outside contractor to reinspect failed inspections or perform inspections that were not performed which prevented Certificates of Occupancy from being issued. Several of the problems with this assignment was the outside inspectors did not have the proper licenses to do the inspections plus this individual also paid for secretarial services that were included in the contract – around $30 – $40k. Several years later, it was discovered he had been responsible for approximately 350 Temporary Certificates of Occupancy while issuing less than 10 to 20 Certificates of Occupancy. Building Official Martin, prior to his leaving, had issued around 20 Temporary Certificates of Occupancy, too. In my opinion, an employee who does the same job, should have the same qualifications and the same responsibilities prior to being paid the same salary. If they have been doing the same job for more years than the other person, yes, they should receive more money but if they were performing at a position with lower level responsibility, than they should not be paid a much higher salary for being employed at the company longer.

    Presently, more than 25% of heads of households are single women with children. I agree, many of us do not speak up for fear of losing our jobs and many of us accept more assignments than our male counterparts to try to be promoted. The majority of these women who are single heads of households live at or below the poverty level.

    I was a single head of household with two teenage sons and I am familiar with pay inequity. Many times in construction companies, my starting salary was the same as the company’s secretary while the men doing the same job were paid much more than I. I also worked as a secretary for more than 12 years prior to returning to college in may late 30’s. Filing a lawsuit is expensive with the up front fee and paying for expenses in a contingency lawsuit, the cost can be formidable if you do not make a large salary and have dependents relying on your salary.

    Lastly, none of the men I worked with in construction were given the additional responsibilities I was, at no extra pay.

  7. Check your Facts says:

    To Mr. Berger’s comments,

    “And I think that what we need to do is not get into a climate where we are making sex discrimination lawsuits when the facts are dubious to be financially attractive, and this lead to frivolous lawsuits.”

    I don’t think he has a clue what the Lilly Ledbetter situation was about. As quoted on Wikipedia,

    “In 1979, Lilly Ledbetter was hired by Goodyear; she retired from Goodyear in 1998 and then sued the company for paying her significantly less than her male counterparts. The lawsuit eventually reached the Supreme Court, which denied her claim because she did not file suit 180 days from her first pay check even though she said she didn’t know it at the time.”

    So it wasn’t dubious or frivolous, it was untimely though true, and not in WWI or WWII.

    As to his 77 cents being misleading, check with PolitiFact Florida, they find today it is 83 cents, so he has a point.

    However, the thrust of his position wasn’t that it was 83 cents, but his belief that there is no difference anymore which isn’t true.

    In the final analysis, is this the type of person who represents us? Is it because he is so minor that no one knows what he thinks or does so he hides in the shadows? Can’t we do better?

    Giving his thoughts, I hope the next time he runs (I looked it up and it’s 2016) he gets someone of quality to compete with him that will ask questions on his views on matters such as abortion, gun control, women’s rights, civil rights, and climate change. What a wide opening experience that could be.

  8. Sam The Sham says:

    As a white male, I can tell you there are plenty of times I have been discriminated against. Sometimes it was because I am white, sometimes it was because I am male, and sometimes it was because I would not play the boss’es office politics. Sometimes I didn’t get the job because there was someone better than me, as hard as that is to imagine.

    When I owned my business and employed people, I explained to them that pay rates are private and any employees discussing and comparing their pay were subject to termination.

    Hiring people is a lot like purchasing items or services. Sometimes you can get something much cheaper because the seller needs to make some quick cash. This should not be the case in public employment but should be in private employment.