Female Full Professors at the University’s Sturm College of Law Were Paid Average of Nearly $20,000 Less Than Their Male Counterparts, Federal Agency Charged
DENVER – The University of Denver will pay $2.66 million and furnish other relief to settle a pay discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
The EEOC’s lawsuit charged that the university violated federal law by paying a class of female full professors at the Sturm College of Law lower salaries than it paid to their male counterparts who were performing substantially equal work under similar working conditions.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, as of October 2013, salaries of female full professors were on average, $19,781 less than those of male full professors, and all the women’s salaries were below the average salary paid to men. Despite formally recognizing the significant pay disparity in a 2013 memo, the university declined to take corrective action by adjusting salaries of female full professors.
Such alleged conduct violates the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights of 1964, which both prohibit discrimination in compensation based on sex. The EEOC filed its lawsuit, EEOC et al. v. University of Denver, Case No. 1:16-cv-02471-WYD-MJW, in 2016 in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
“The favorable resolution of this case is a clear example of the EEOC’s commitment to fully enforcing our federal laws against pay discrimination. I hope cases like these get the attention of all employers and lead them to not only review their pay practices, but take action to address discrimination when they find it.” said EEOC Acting Chair, Victoria A. Lipnic.
In addition to $2.66 million in monetary damages to seven female full professors who participated in the lawsuit, the consent decree settling the suit also requires the University of Denver to increase the 2018 salaries of the seven female professors; annually publish salary and compensation information to tenure, tenure-track, and contract faculty; and employ a labor economist to conduct an annual compensation equity study.
The university will also work with an independent consultant to review methods and criteria used to determine pay and compensation, and these standards used to determine raises each year will be announced to the faculty in advance of the academic year. The independent consultant will also assist the university to revise its anti-discrimination policies and to conduct an informational campaign and training on those anti-discrimination policies. The decree will remain in effect for six years, but may end a year early based on an established record of compliance. While the decree is in effect, the independent consultant will provide regular progress and compliance reports to both the EEOC and the University of Denver. The court approved the settlement and will retain jurisdiction while the decree is in effect.
Noting the importance of protecting civil rights, Senior District Judge Wiley Y. Daniel, who approved the consent decree, stated during the hearing: “We need to make sure we learn from our history and we understand the importance of moving forward, not backwards, moving forward, not sideways.”
“The Equal Pay Act and Title VII are clear that pay discrimination based on a person’s sex is a violation of federal law – no exceptions,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill. “As we just recently marked Equal Pay Day, the EEOC remains committed to elimination of pay discrimination in the workplace.”
Phoenix District Director Elizabeth Cadle said, “This resolution is an excellent result, not only for the seven women who will receive compensation and salary increases to address past pay inequities, but also for other faculty members who will benefit from increased pay transparency and an annual pay equity study targeted at preventing similar inequities from arising in the future.”
The University of Denver is a private research university in Denver made up of 13 undergraduate and graduate schools and colleges.
The EEOC’s Phoenix District Office has jurisdiction over Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.
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