SW Legal studies in Business

Lower Pay for Woman Professor Violates Equal Pay Act
Description Appeals court upheld a verdict in favor of a woman professor who contended she was paid less than men professors who had similar backgrounds and duties. While the professors who were compared were not identical, they were similar enough to indicate a pattern of pay disparity based on sex.
Topic Employment Discrimination
Key Words Equal Pay Act; Sex Discrimination
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Lavin was hired as a new assistant professor at Marist College in 1976. She was tenured in 1982 and promoted to associate professor in 1985, but never promoted to full professor. In 1989 she complained to administrators that her pay was not equal to those of men in equivalent positions, but nothing was done. In 1994 she filed a request to have her salary reviewed for gender disparity. The college president determined that she was fairly compensated. She sued, contending violations of the Equal Pay Act and Title VII. Testimony at trial indicated that women, including Lavin, were generally paid less than men in comparable positions. The jury awarded her back pay, damages and attorney fees for a total of $118,000. Marist appealed.

Affirmed. To establish a violation of the Equal Pay Act, the plaintiff need not demonstrate that her job is identical to a higher paid position, but only must show that the two positions are substantially equal in skill, effort, and responsibility. The fact that male professors used for comparison did not have positions identical to hers is not critical; they were in the same unit and had similar responsibilities. Lavin presented sufficient evidence to show, through statistical evidence, that male professors of similar rank, years of service, and background were paid more. Statistical evidence of gender-based salary disparity across the college could be used to enhance her case.

Citation Lavin-McEleney v. Marist College, 239 F.3d 476 (2nd Cir., 2001)

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