Under the Equal Pay Act of 1963, employers cannot pay an employee less compensation than another employee based on gender. Generally, when determining whether a pay disparity constitutes as workplace gender discrimination, the court will consider whether the employees are doing substantially similar work but are getting paid different amounts.

Professors file lawsuit against university

Four female professors, including three professors and one associate professor, employed by Northern Michigan University’s College of Business, filed a lawsuit against their employer in 2019, alleging violations of gender discrimination and equal pay laws.

According to their complaint, female faculty members of the business department were paid significantly less than male faculty members for the same or substantially similar work. Specifically, the women contended they were paid anywhere from nine to 70 percent less than male faculty members with the same qualifications.

The women also contended that female faculty members were denied the same opportunities as men for tenure and other benefits. For example, the lawsuit alleges that the College of Business allowed male faculty members to choose which classes they wanted to teach, awarded tenure track positions to males instead of females who were equally or better qualified, and generally made it easier for men to be granted tenure than women. The women apparently complained to administration about this mistreatment, but said they were retaliated against by male faculty members. This retaliation often involved the cancellation of the women’s classes and programs, and an increased workload without increased pay.

Parties agree to pre-trial settlement

NMU recently agreed to settle the case before trial for $1.46 million, and the four women named in the lawsuit expressly agreed to a statement that the settlement would not serve as an admission of liability for anyone involved.

Not all workplace discrimination lawsuits end up going to trial. In many cases, the employer will meet with the parties alleging discrimination and reach a settlement that all parties are okay with. Generally, an employer will agree to pay the employees a sum of money in exchange for the ability to deny fault or liability. If you feel that you are getting paid less because of your gender, an employment law attorney may be able to assist you.