The University of Miami did not discriminate against a professor, despite paying her far less than a male professor in the same department, a jury decided in a closely watched federal lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
After a five-day trial in Miami this month, the jury found that the university had not violated the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as the EEOC had charged. The federal agency had filed the suit in 2019 on behalf of political science professor Louise Davidson-Schmich after evidence showed that another poli-sci professor with similar experience, Gregory Koger, was paid about $30,000 more per year.
“Defendant University of Miami discriminated against Louise Davidson-Schmich by paying her less than a male counterpart for performing equal and/or similar work,” the complaint reads.
But UM’s attorneys, of the Isicoff Ragatz firm in Miami, argued that the difference in pay was based not on gender but on a range of factors, including experience, publishing history, impact of research, and subject matters taught.
“It bears noting that the EEOC’s complaint demonstrates either a complete misunderstanding of the considerations that underlie compensation decisions for academic positions in higher education or a decision on the EEOC’s part merely to ignore those considerations and initiate this lawsuit anyway,” the university’s attorneys wrote in a 2019 motion to have the claim dismissed.
The case had been watched by universities and women’s rights groups around the country and it merited an article in Forbes Magazine this month.
The complaint showed Davidson-Schmich was hired in 2000 at a salary of $50,000. She had six years of experience. Koger was hired in 2007 at $81,000. He had four years of experience.
The case began to gain steam in 2017 when an ad-hoc committee of women faculty posted a memo showing the results of an audit that found that woman at UM make almost $33,000 less than men, on average, and more men were promoted to full professor. In 2018 it was revealed, through an email inadvertently sent to Davidson-Schmich, that she was paid $112,400 while Koger earned $137,366, documents showed.
Davidson-Schmich, who teaches and researches gender politics, filed the complaint with the EEOC in summer 2018. The agency investigated and issued a finding in March 2019, but was unable to reach a conciliation with the university. The lawsuit was filed in July of that year.
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