BOSTON (CelebrityAccess) The top flutist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra is suing the orchestra for allegedly paying her 75 percent of what it pays her male counterparts.
Elizabeth Rowe, principal flutist, claims she is paid less than the principal oboe, viola, trumpet, timpani and horns, positions all held by men, according to CNN. She filed her lawsuit July2, the day the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act went into effect.
“Both the principal oboe and principal flute are leaders of their woodwind sections, they are seated adjacent to each other, they each play with the Boston Symphony Chamber Players, and are both leaders of the orchestra in similarly demanding roles,” the lawsuit says.
The suit says John Ferrillo is the top paid oboist and has “substantially similar” responsibilities to Rowe. It says she is the top paid male principal.
“After removing seniority pay, the top male principal is paid 30% more than the top female principal,” the lawsuit says. It adds that Rowe has been chosen to be a featured soloist 27 times since she joined the orchestra in 2004, and Ferrillo has been featured 18 times, and that he has received a guaranteed annual raise while Rowe has had to negotiate her salary increases. She is paid about $70,000 less each hear than Ferrillo, according to the New York Times.
The complaint may be the first pay equity lawsuit brought by a leading orchestral musician, indicating the debate over gender equality may be moving into new territory, according to the NYT. It has been traditional for a half century for orchestral candidates play behind screens in blind auditions, with women making more than 47 percent of players in U.S. ensembles, according to a 2016 report byt the League of American Orchestras, the NYT said.
Rowe’s attorney, Elizabeth Rodgers, told CNN that her client tried to resolve the issue internally for six months.
“She is saddened that she had to address it in a lawsuit to try to fix this problem,” Rodgers told CNN in an email.
The Boston Symphony Orchestra issued the following statement, saying it received the complaint July 5:
“The BSO will review the complaint with its attorneys, though, as with all such matters, the orchestra will not comment on pending litigation. The BSO is committed to a strong policy of equal employment opportunity and to the practice of comparable pay for comparable work, as well as abiding by the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act.”
The Massachusetts law, which requires equal pay for “comparable work,” was passed in 2016 but it came into effect Sunday so that employers were given two years to rectify disparities.
Rowe is suing for more than $200,000 in unpaid wages and other damages.