Fighting for Women's Equality

EEOC Sides With Women Law Professors in Equal Pay Case

September 1, 2015 | by
Professor Lucy Marsh

Professor Lucy Marsh

DENVER – The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has issued a determination finding reasonable cause to believe that the University of Denver Sturm College of Law violated federal law when it paid Law Professor Lucy Marsh and a class of other female law professors less than male professors performing substantially equal work. The EEOC also calculated at least $1.2 million in back pay damages owed to the class for violations of the Equal Pay Act and stated that the professors may well be entitled to additional monetary and injunctive relief, and attorneys’ fees and costs.

The EEOC official charged with investigating the allegations issued the following determination:

There is reasonable cause to believe there is a violation of Title VII in that there appears to be a continuing pattern or practice at the Sturm College of Law, dating back to as early as 1973, of compensating female law professors less than their male counterparts.  The [University] was aware of these pay disparities at least as of December 2012, but took no action to ameliorate this disparity, in effect intentionally condoning and formalizing a history of wage disparity based on sex. These facts further support a finding that [the University] has violated the Equal Pay Act by paying a class of female law professiors less than their male counterparts.

The EEOC finding follows a determined crusade by Professor Marsh to expose and remedy pay discrimination at the law school. Marsh, a nationally respected legal scholar, has taught at the law school since 1973 and has been a full professor since 1982. She is paid $109,000 a year and the median salary for a full professor is $149,000.

“I’m delighted that the EEOC has decided to take action on behalf of all the women full professors at Sturm College of Law,” said Professor Marsh.

Professor Marsh filed the charge against the law school in July 2013 after learning that she was paid significantly less than male colleagues with far fewer years of tenure performing substantially equal work. Professor Marsh also brought the charge on behalf of female professors after the University released an internal memo revealing a pattern and practice of pay discrimination harming female law professors for decades. Among other issues, the University will have to resolve the persistent issue of pay secrecy at the school.

Professor Marsh is represented by Equal Rights Advocates, a national gender equity nonprofit advocacy organization, and the Boulder, CO law firm of Hutchinson Black and Cook.

“Law schools should be leaders in the fight against pay discrimination, not forty-year violators of federal law,” said Baine Kerr of Hutchinson Black and Cook. “It’s time for DU to do the right thing, and it’s time nationally for a Paycheck Fairness Act abolishing pay secrecy.”

“We hail Professor Marsh’s courage in standing for pay equity in academia,” said Equal Rights Advocates Executive Director Noreen Farrell. “Her claims inspire women across the country working in hundreds of different professions who are paid less for equal work. The EEOC’s determination is a bright spot in an otherwise national disgrace.”



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