- Associated Press - Monday, May 18, 2015

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a federal complaint against Casper-based True Oil LLC and associated companies that charges they have discriminated against woman employees by paying them less than men for equivalent work.

A spokesman for the companies said Monday they vigorously disagree with and will fight the federal agency’s claims in the complaint.

The complaint, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Wyoming, names True Oil and nine associated companies, some of which have various operations in 12 states. It states the companies share accounting functions and that, since at least 2010, they have paid female accounting clerks less male clerks.

“It’s not just unfair when women are paid less than men when they do substantially equal work under similar working conditions - it’s against the law,” Rayford O. Irvin, director of the EEOC’s Phoenix office, said in a prepared release.

“Enforcing the Equal Pay Act and closing the pay gap is a priority for the EEOC,” said Mary Jo O’Neill, the EEOC’s regional attorney in Phoenix. “By enforcing the Equal Pay Act, the EEOC ensures that women will be paid an equal and fair wage.”

O’Neill noted a 2014 report by the American Association of University Women found that Wyoming has the largest pay disparity between men and women in the country.

In its statement issued Monday, the EEOC stated it first tried to reach a settlement with the companies before filing the lawsuit.

The associated companies named in the complaint are Belle Fourche Pipeline Company; Black Hills Trucking Inc.; Bridger Pipeline LLC; Butte Pipeline, LLC; Eighty-Eight Oil LLC; Equitable Oil Purchasing Company; Toolpushers Supply Co.; True Drilling LLC; and True Ranches LLC.

The True companies employ over 1,000 people in Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Pennsylvania, Louisiana and Mississippi, according to True Oil’s website.

The companies have a unified accounting department and since 2010 have employed at least 37 accounting clerks, according to the complaint. It states that since 2010, the companies have paid female clerks less than the male clerks.

The complaint gives an example that in 2013, a male clerk was paid $21 an hour while a female clerk was paid $16.93 an hour.

Bill Salvin, a spokesman for the True companies, said Monday the companies strongly disagree with the complaint. “The lawsuit presents inaccurate information to create a false picture of how we operate,” Salvin said, adding that the companies will battle the allegations in court.

Salvin said the companies have been cooperating fully with the EEOC’s investigation since 2012. He said staff, “provided hundreds of documents that prove our compensation policies and practices are built on the bedrock of equal treatment, fair pay, and opportunity for all.”

Dave True and Hank True manage all the companies, according to the complaint. Dave True, a Republican, is treasurer of the University of Wyoming Board of Trustees.

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