Law school to pay $2.6 mil­lion in wage gap law­suit

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - BUSINESS - By Kath­leen Foody Kath­leen Foody is an As­so­ci­ated Press writer.

DEN­VER — Seven fe­male law pro­fes­sors at a Colorado univer­sity will re­ceive a $2.6 mil­lion set­tle­ment and pay in­creases af­ter fed­eral of­fi­cials filed a law­suit against the women’s em­ployer for rou­tinely pay­ing higher salaries to their male col­leagues.

A fed­eral judge in­di­cated sup­port for the set­tle­ment agree­ment Thurs­day be­tween the Univer­sity of Den­ver, the U.S. Equal Em­ploy­ment Op­por­tu­nity Com­mis­sion and the pro­fes­sors. Colorado Dis­trict Court Judge Wi­ley Daniel re­quested some tech­ni­cal changes dur­ing a hear­ing but said he had no other ob­jec­tion to sign­ing it.

In a state­ment, univer­sity of­fi­cials said they were “con­fi­dent in our le­gal po­si­tion” but “were mo­ti­vated to ac­tion by our strong de­sire to heal our com­mu­nity and move for­ward to­gether.”

The state­ment also said fair, eq­ui­table and mer­it­based pay for fac­ulty and staff is among the univer­sity’s “cor­ner­stone com­mit­ments.”

Ac­cord­ing to the terms, the school must cre­ate a pass­word-pro­tected site list­ing Sturm Col­lege of Law fac­ulty salaries, po­si­tion, date of hire and de­mo­graphic in­for­ma­tion. Names will not be in­cluded.

The school also must re­quire em­ployee train­ing on dis­crim­i­na­tion and hire an out­side con­sul­tant to study fac­ulty pay each year.

The $2.6 mil­lion award in­cludes back pay for the pro­fes­sors and at­tor­neys’ fees. The agree­ment also re­quires in­creased salaries for the pro­fes­sors start­ing this month, but those amounts were sealed.

Ac­cord­ing to the orig­i­nal com­plaint, the law school’s dean, Martin Katz, wrote a memo in De­cem­ber 2012 on fac­ulty raises. Katz in­cluded in­for­ma­tion show­ing fe­male full pro­fes­sors’ me­dian salary was about $11,000 less than male coun­ter­parts while the av­er­age fe­male pro­fes­sor made nearly $16,000 less than male full pro­fes­sors.

Pro­fes­sor Lucy Marsh, who be­gan work­ing at the law school in 1976, met with Katz and then or­ga­nized a broader meet­ing for other fe­male law pro­fes­sors with the dean. Ac­cord­ing to the law­suit, “Katz spec­u­lated ... that fe­male full law pro­fes­sors may be paid less be­cause they were not per­form­ing as well as male full pro­fes­sors.”

Marsh later filed a com­plaint with the EEOC, prompt­ing the fed­eral agency to review the dis­pute and file the law­suit. Marsh and six other fe­male pro­fes­sors signed on as plain­tiffs.

In court doc­u­ments re­spond­ing to the ini­tial com­plaint, at­tor­neys for the univer­sity de­nied that the pay dif­fer­ences were based on sex alone and said it had not vi­o­lated any laws on com­pen­sa­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to court doc­u­ments, at­tor­neys be­gan ne­go­ti­a­tions in Jan­uary with a re­tired U.S. mag­is­trate judge act­ing as me­di­a­tor and asked the court in April to con­sider the proposed set­tle­ment.

The agree­ment is due to ex­pire in five or six years, de­pend­ing on an out­side review of the univer­sity’s com­pli­ance.

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