The firm that commissioned the popular "Fearless Girl" statue in New York's financial district has agreed to pay $5 million, mostly to settle claims that it discriminated against 305 top female employees by paying them less than men in the same positions.
In the agreement, officials at the United States Department of Labor also allege that the firm, State Street Corporation, discriminated against 15 of its black vice presidents by paying them less than white employees in the same positions.
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State Street, a financial services firm, denies the allegations, according to the agreement. Still, the filing says that the firm has agreed to pay about $4.5 million in back pay and about $500,000 in interest into a settlement fund for the affected employees.
In a statement on Thursday, the company said that it "is committed to equal pay practices and evaluates on an ongoing basis our internal processes to be sure our compensation, hiring and promotions programs are nondiscriminatory," according to The Associated Press.
Federal officials began their "evaluation" of State Street in late 2012, according to the agreement. They contend that the compensation discrimination dates back to December 2010.
"Fearless Girl," a bronze statue of a small child, has drawn consistent crowds since it first assumed its defiant stance in the front of the financial district's well-known "Charging Bull" in March.
State Street Global Advisors, a division of State Street Corporation, said that it had installed the statue there on the eve of International Women's Day in order to celebrate "the power of women in leadership, and the potential of the next generation of women leaders."
Although it had originally been scheduled to be removed in April, officials later decided it would remain until International Women's Day in March 2018.
While praised by many, the statue has endured its share of criticism. Arturo Di Modica, the sculptor who created "Charging Bull," has denounced the rival statue as an attack on and an insult to his own. Others have denounced "Fearless Girl" as "corporate feminism" and a "marketing coup."
As news of the $5 million agreement spread on Thursday, many Twitter users were quick to assail the company once more, citing what they perceived as hypocrisy.