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Quebecs human rights tribunal has ordered the University of Laval to pay thousands of dollars to 131 CUPE Local 2500 members after ruling the groups pay scales were discriminatory.

“Its a really big win,” said CUPE Equality rep Carol Robertson. “It means that a Quebec employer cannot use incremental pay scales to avoid paying women what theyre worth.”

Originally, an agreement had been worked out in an attempt to reach pay equity through negotiations. But, the office workers 86 per cent female found themselves with a ten-step pay scale while their comparable group the 84 per cent male trade and services unit had one rate of pay. The employer had refused to dedicate money to eliminate the increment steps.

The tribunal ruled that the deal discriminated against the Universitys clerical staff. The decision means that pay equity extends beyond having the same maximum salary rate. The groups pay levels must now be comparable as well.

Robertson said if the employer appeals, the case could end up in the Supreme Court. Either way, the tribunal decision adds support to other pay equity battles across the country.