Tara Murtha, a senior writer at Philadelphia Weekly, has filed a federal civil suit against the paper's publisher claiming, among things, that pictures of naked women in a co-worker's cubicle fostered a "hostile and sexually discriminatory work environment."
But Murtha's chief claim is that her pay was lower than that of a male employee and the paper's only other full-time staff writer.
The suit was filed yesterday in Philadelphia by Murtha's attorney, J. Conor Corcoran. Review Publishing, LP, of Philadelphia, Sural Corp., of Bala Cynwyd and Anthony and Catherine Clifton were all named as defendants. Anthony Clifton is CEO of Review Publishing.
Murtha claims she was deprived of her civil rights by the company's failure to pay her equally. The suit seeks in excess of $150,000.
James Stokes, a vice president at Philadelphia Weekly, said this afternoon that company policy prohibited him from commenting on any pending litigation.
The suit says Murtha was hired as arts editor in March 2008. She was made senior writer in October 2008 and awarded a salary of $40,000 per year. The following year, the company reduced her salary to $38,000 as part of a general cost-cutting measure.
However, her pay was never restored, despite the paper's hiring of another staff writer in 2011. He was paid $40,000 per year, the suit says.
Murtha's pay continues at $38,000.
Further, the lawsuit states that there was a generally sexist atmosphere in the newsroom. On one occasion, according to the suit, a male retail account executive in advertising decorated his desk with "multiple pictures of naked and/or scantily clad women, torn from the pages of pornographic magazines and/or websites."
The suit says that no one at the paper would address the employee's "onanistic aspirations" because he generated a lot of revenue for the company.
Murtha also alleges she was denied gas money for a trip she took for an interview, even though a male colleague was given reimbursement for a separate interview.
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