University of Denver Law Professor Alleges School Underpays Women
Longtime and celebrated University of Denver Sturm College of the Law Professor Lucy Marsh, represented by Equal Rights Advocates and Boulder law firm Hutchinson, Black and Cook, filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission yesterday alleging that the university has discriminated against her and other female professors by paying them less than their male counterparts.
Despite her 40 years of service to the school, Marsh learned earlier this year that she is the lowest paid full professor on the faculty and that she and other female professors earn less than male professors with similar qualifications. Her salary is tens of thousands of dollars less than the median salary for a professor at Sturm, and much lower than what her experience and qualifications would demand. Studies show the gender wage gap costs women with graduate degrees like Marsh upwards of $2 million dollars over the course of their careers.
“Professor Marsh’s case is the perfect example of how the gender wage gap in this country affects women across the economic and educational spectrum,” said ERA Legal Director Jennifer Reisch, who represents Marsh. “The wage gap hurts all women, regardless of education level, and the families they help support.”
According to a 2012 memo from Sturm College Dean Martin Katz, faculty salary increases that year were allocated to the top 25 performers at the school without regard for “trying to correct possible [pay] inequities.” The memo further detailed that female professors earned median salaries of $16,000 less than male professors after the 2012 raises took effect. According to the EEOC charge, Marsh met with Katz to discuss the pay disparities, but he was “unwilling to give [her] much of the information she requested, did not know her starting salary or her DU target salary, and presented incorrect information regarding [her] start date and publications.”
Prior to filing the EEOC charge, a precursor to a lawsuit, Marsh’s attorneys reached out to the school to seek information and work together to remedy the pay disparity, but received no response. Notably, Katz has a specialization in employment law.
“We hope that Professor Marsh’s courage in speaking out and taking formal steps to enforce her civil rights will prompt the law school to take action,” Reisch said. “As a law school, this employer should have known better. It is high time that employers to examine their pay practices and address pay discrimination.”
Marsh began her teaching career at DU in 1973, and specializes in wills and estates. She has published numerous books and articles and recently founded the Tribal Wills Project, an extension of a clinical program she created nearly 30 years ago to connect low income clients with students to draft their wills. She’s won multiple awards, including the 2010 “Excellence in Teaching” award from her school, and from Colorado Lawyer magazine and the Denver Bar Association. Learn more about ERA’s Equal Pay Today! platform at www.equalrights.org/equal-pay-today. To view press coverage of this important case, click here.