(CNSNews.com) - Among the three senators remaining in the presidential race, Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) leads in having the most women on her staff by a near 2-1 margin, according to the most recent Senate report on congressional personnel.
Among the four Clinton staffers earning more than $100,000 a year, three are women. Clinton had 72 workers on staff in both her Washington and New York state offices, including senior staff, assistants and interns, during the six-month period of April 1, 2007 through Sept. 31, 2007, the last period recorded in the report of the secretary of the Senate.
In Clinton's staff, 31 of the top 50 earners were women, according to an analysis of the Senate report by Cybercast News Service.
Most senators have more than 70 employees on their entire staff, counting their Washington office and state offices, with pay ranging from $2,000 for part-time staff or interns to near $200,000 for senior staff.
The most recent report of the secretary of the Senate covers April 1, 2007 to Sept. 31, 2007. There have been staff changes since that time for Clinton and possibly other staffs as well. The analysis by Cybercast News Service also looked at two other presidential candidates, as well as House and Senate leadership staff.
Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, Clinton's opponent for the Democratic nomination, both have relative parity in numbers for men and women. However, McCain's staff consists of more women with higher pay than Obama's staff.
The seemingly lopsided numbers -- 31 female top earners vs. 19 male -- for Clinton's staff could "give rise to the inference of discrimination," said workplace discrimination attorney Michael J. Hoare, who practices law in Washington with the law firm of Michael J. Hoare P.C., when presented with the numbers as a hypothetical.
Federal law allows the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to investigate disparities, along with the applicant pool and other factors.
"The next step would be, is there an explanation for that circumstance?" Hoare told Cybercast News Service. "If there is an explanation that dispels that inference, the job of the person bringing that complaint is to prove the explanation for the disparity is bogus."
Clinton has had more than 150 people on her staff over the last seven years, mostly people with strong ties to New York state, that represent a "balanced and diversified staff," said Philippe Reines, spokesman for Clinton's Senate office. He said there is no glass ceiling for anyone.
"Our ceilings are literally so high that you'd need a ladder to reach it," Reines told Cybercast News Service. "So the only thing keeping any of us down is Newton's Law - and nothing else."
Reines also pointed to staff changes since the last secretary of the Senate report covering the six-month period ending Sept. 31, 2007.
Three of the highest paid female employees earning between $60,000 and $130,000 listed in the latest report have left Clinton's Senate office, while two male employees have stepped into the high-ranking offices of legislative director and director of scheduling.
"You are looking at a single six-month period that does not accurately reflect either the current or historical facts, both in terms of make up and salary," he said. "For instance, several members of the staff, including myself, are paid both through the Senate and through the senator's presidential campaign."
Lisa Goldblatt, anti-discrimination lawyer with the Goldblatt Law Firm in Washington, said even if the numbers were uneven it would be "ridiculous" to attempt a "reverse" gender-discrimination claim.
"The interesting point is to examine what group in our society makes the most money and has the most power in the majority of workplaces, including the private sector, government agencies and Congress," Goldblatt told Cybercast News Service.
For the six-month period in the latest secretary of the Senate report, women did not fare as well in Obama's office as the other two presidential candidates, though it was not an overly lopsided staff.
Just 20 of the top 50 earners in Obama's office have female first names, compared to 29 with male first names. Further, of the six people who earn more than $100,000 per year, only one - Obama's administrative manager - is a woman.
A spokesman for Obama's Senate office who asked not to be named, told Cybercast News Service, "Senator Obama believes that bringing together people of diverse backgrounds, experiences, and viewpoints is critical to tackling the tough challenges our nation faces today. He has followed that principle in assembling his Senate staff, which he believes is the finest in Congress."
During the six months measured in the latest report, McCain had slightly more female employees than male, while 28 of the top 50 highest earners in his office were women. The top two highest earners on his staff were his female legislative director and female communications director.
Cybercast News Service contacted all the House and Senate offices referenced in this article by phone, e-mail and in person. None of the offices provided a precise gender or racial breakdown of their staff as requested. In most cases, gender could be determined by first names.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission requires that all employers with 100 or more workers provide gender and racial statistics to the government. This applies to private companies, non-profit organizations, and federal, state and local governments.
Most congressional staffs - federal and state offices - have fewer than 100 employees. However, certain members with separate leadership offices have 100 or more combined employees on staff. Those staff are under separate offices, albeit the same member of Congress, so the EEOC rule doesn't apply.
Party leaders such as the House speaker and Senate majority leader have two separate staffs, one with offices in the Capitol as well as their home state or district to address constituent needs, and an entirely separate leadership office to address national leadership roles. For this analysis, the staffs were combined.
Combining the employees of her congressional staff and the staff of the speaker's office, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) employed 42 female staffers and 28 male staffers in the last quarter of 2007.
But pay wasn't lopsided. For the 11 staffers making $100,000 or more, six had typically female names, five had typically male names. Meanwhile, among the top 50 highest paid staffers, 29 were women.
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) had a total of 23 staff with male first names and 18 with female first names in the last quarter of 2007 - that's combining his congressional staff in both the Washington and district offices, and his separate leadership office.
The highest paid was his female chief of staff. Among the top 25 highest paid for Boehner, 12 are women.
For Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), 26 women are among the top 50 highest paid staffers. That's when combining both his Senate staff - Washington and Nevada offices - and his leadership office. For the dozen that earn $100,000 or more through Reid, seven are women.
Women outnumber men on the combined staffs of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) by 49 to 43. For the dozen staffers he employs who earn $100,000 a year or more, four had female names. Meanwhile, 24 of the top 50 highest paid employees of McConnell were women in the last reported six-month period.
The equal employment laws put in place by the 1991 Civil Rights Act codify a 1971 U.S. Supreme Court decision that determined even if the employer didn't intend to discriminate, he or she can be held accountable if the end result was discrimination.
Also, the law states that any requirements on getting a job - education, height or weight requirements - must pertain to the job. An employer must prove job necessity if he or she is to explain the disparity. Congressional offices are subject to the law.
There is no number or percentage that provokes action by the government, said EEOC spokesman James Ryan. Rather, enforcement is largely complaint-driven. Private sector employees would take their complaints directly to the EEOC.
However, federal workers must first go to the Equal Employment Opportunity office in their own agency first and may appeal to the main EEOC office, Ryan said. Congressional staffers with a discrimination claim would first go to the Office of Compliance.
Most EEOC complaints are made by federal employees, said Hoare, but most of those complaints do not come from congressional staffers.
"You have a more sophisticated workforce in the federal government," said Hoare. "They're willing to complain. Maybe at the state and local government levels, workers are more likely to put it off and suffer."
Goldblatt said discrimination complaints are not easy to win.
"Raw numbers alone often don't tell the whole story," she said. "You also have to look at the applicant pool, how many applied, how many were promoted, what were their qualifications, et cetera. You shouldn't just use statistics. You should also include anecdotal evidence."
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