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A federal judge has ruled that a Maine hospital violated the state’s equal pay law by paying a female psychologist barely half the wage of her male colleagues.

The judge ruled that Northern Light Acadia Hospital violated the Maine Equal Pay Law and must pay back wages and damages to psychologist Clare Mundell. She filed the lawsuit after learning her hourly rate of $50 was less than the $90 to $95 per hour made by men in her department.

The judge, Lance Walker of U.S. District Court in Maine, wrote Tuesday that Mundell was “unlawfully underpaid by Acadia,” a psychiatric hospital in Bangor. Mundell said in a statement that she only learned of the wage difference because of a discussion with a male coworker in a shared office space about hourly rates. She said she encourages “all workers to share this information freely with one another.”

Northern Light Acadia Hospital is part of Northern Light Health, a health network that includes some of the biggest hospitals in northern New England. Northern Light Health disagrees with the ruling and intends to appeal it, vice president Suzanne Spruce said.

She said Northern Light is “committed to treating all of its employees, regardless of gender, or any other protected class, fairly and equitably.”

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