Law School Settles Gender Pay Disparity Suit

The University of Denver Sturm College of Law will pay $2.66 million to settle a lawsuit filed over unequal pay discrimination.

Seven female law professors will receive pay increases along with a division of the settlement sum, according to the Denver Post.

“This is an important victory for female professors in any university setting,” attorney Charlotte Sweeney tells the Denver Post. “That a law school was allowed to perpetuate this level of pay disparity between men and women for decades is shocking.”

A History of Pay Discrimination

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued the law school in 2016 after law professor Lucy Marsh filed a complaint alleging that the school was paying females less than males in the same position. Marsh was the lowest-paid professor, earning $109,000 annually, compared with the median salary of $149,000, according to the Denver Post. Six other female law professors followed suit as plaintiffs, including K.K. DuVivier, Nancy Ehrenreich, Kris McDaniel-Miccio, Catherine Smith, Joyce Sterling and Celia Taylor, Law.com reports.

Sweeney, the attorney for the plaintiffs, says the university has a decades-long history of pay disparity and that this case only further highlights an existing problem of gender pay disparity in the United States.

Highlighting a Greater Issue

“My hope is that this case will put law schools and other employers everywhere on notice that the EEOC means business—and that women will no longer put up with being paid less than men,” Marsh says in a released statement.

Denver University says in a released statement that the settlement will not affect student scholarships, financial aid, or university operations.

“While confident in our legal position, we were motivated to action by our strong desire to heal our community and move forward together,” the university’s statement reads. “We believe this settlement will allow us to collectively focus on a present and a future in which the law school—and the DU community as a whole—can unite under our common values of equity, integrity and opportunity.”

The settlement will also require the law school to implement a number of changes, including raising the salaries of female faculty, appointing an independent monitor to review employment decisions for the next six months, and disclosing faculty pay to professors, the Law.com reports.

Sources: Denver Post, Law.com