Donna Dingler, a Fulton County fire captain, has filed a federal lawsuit claiming she is paid less because she is a woman. JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM AJC FILE PHOTO

Female Fulton fire captain alleges pay discrimination in lawsuit

A Fulton County fire captain has filed a lawsuit for gender discrimination, saying she is paid less than her male peers.

The federal suit says Donna Dingler, who has been a captain in the Fulton County fire department since 2002 and has worked for the county since 1994, makes less money than male fire captains who have less experience.

Dingler makes $66,954 a year, says the suit, filed Wednesday. Four male colleagues make $69,355 annually. One male fire captain makes $72,446, but he has more experience than Dingler, according to the suit.

Dingler said in the suit that other female fire captains are paid at the same rate she is.

“There’s just no justification for having this disparity,” said Matthew Billips, the attorney who filed the suit on Dingler’s behalf. “We think it’s a very strong case and, frankly, I don’t understand why the county is being so difficult in terms of getting it resolved.”

The suit says Dingler told the county about the pay disparity, and officials refused to increase her salary to correct it. In a statement, a Fulton County spokesperson said the county “prefers not to comment on matters of pending litigation.”

Billips said the county has brought in new, male captains at a higher salary, even though they have “substantially less experience.”

A number of lawsuits have been filed against Fulton related to pay disparities. In November, Fulton County court employees filed suit, saying they were unfairly kept out of a new employee classification and pay system.

In 2015, Fulton leaders agreed to pay $21 million to settle eight pay-related lawsuits, including back pay, attorneys’ fees and pension payments.

In 2014, the county paid $4.6 million to judicial law clerks after they won a lawsuit about their pay.

In 2003, Information Technology employees were awarded $400,000 from the county in arbitration after complaints about salaries. Information technology workers received $450,000 in another settlement in 2016 , in a suit related to overtime pay.

In her suit, Dingler requests lost wages and benefits, including retirement benefits; a retroactive pay increase; damages for mental and emotional suffering; and attorney’s fees.

In other Fulton news:

Leaders say the projects will knock off thousands of hours from daily commute.

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