Philadelphia Weekly senior writer Tara Murtha has filed a federal civil suit against the alternative publication, citing a “sexually discriminatory work environment” which included but is not limited to unequal pay compared to that of her male colleagues.
Murtha originally started at PW as arts editor in early 2008, rising to senior writer in October of that year when her salary was set at $40,000 a year. In 2009, Review Publishing cut her pay to $38,000 as part of companywide salary cuts which have been seen across the board in newsrooms. However, her pay was never restored to its original amount and a male journalist was hired in 2011, after her pay cut, but was being given Murtha's original salary of $40,000 per year.
Murtha's suit also claims that a male retail account executive in advertising had “multiple pictures of naked and/or scantily clad women, torn from the pages of pornographic magazines and/or websites.”
The suit also states that Murtha was denied compensation for gas money when driving to cover the well-known Kermit Gosnell story, but a male co-worker was compensated for driving a similar distance for a review piece.
Since filing the lawsuit, other Philadelphia publications have picked up on the story including Philly.com and the Philly Post, where the comments section rages with many different opinions.
One comment on Philly Poststates: “This lawsuit is a work of fiction. 1. The PW staff is overwhelmingly female. 2. The male staff writer who started at $40 grand was more experienced than Ms. Murtha and wrote twice as many articles during his tenure. 3. The male staffer with the porn is the same guy that interrupted her interview and he no longer works for the company. He also did eventually remove the porn. PW has a lot of problems but a sexist work environment isn't one of them.”
The suit also sites a “frat-house atmosphere” that lent itself to a hostile work environment. This was allegedly brought on when Murtha was trying to conduct a phone interview with a Pennsylvania state senator but was hampered by excessive noise made by male colleagues. Murtha’s suit also states that when she complained of the noise she was told by a supervisor to “go find an empty room and close the door.”
Murtha is seeking $150,000 in damages.