5 Professors Sue Rutgers, Saying It Shortchanges Women on Pay

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THE NEW YORK TIMES

Oct. 15, 2020

“We should know that within our academic community, principles of economic justice will be safeguarded,” said Nancy Wolff, a professor at Rutgers University. She and other women at the school claim they have been paid less than their male counterparts.

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined the faculty of Rutgers Law School in 1963, the same year federal legislation aimed at abolishing wage disparity between women and men became law. But Justice Ginsburg, who was the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court and who died last month, was paid much less than her male peers.

So, she and other female faculty members mounted a legal challenge against Rutgers, New Jersey’s flagship university, winning a settlement that earned the women substantial raises.

More than 50 years later, some women claim they are still being shortchanged.

On Wednesday night, in the latest battle over equal pay in higher education, five female tenured professors accused Rutgers in a lawsuit, filed in State Superior Court, of paying them far less than their male counterparts.

Two of the plaintiffs are distinguished professors, a title given only to faculty members who have achieved the highest levels of scholarship. One, Nancy Wolff, has published two books and written more than 100 peer-reviewed articles. Another, Judith Storch, has presented at more than 150 research seminars and won multiple awards. And a third, Deepa Kumar, is a world-renowned scholar of Islamophobia and race.

All of them say they are paid tens of thousands of dollars a year less than male peers with similar qualifications.

“We as professors are working so hard to inspire our students, to expand the knowledge base, and to work with our communities and policymakers to solve social problems,” said Professor Wolff, who teaches public policy, “and we should know that within our academic community, principles of economic justice will be safeguarded.”

University officials said that they would not comment on the lawsuit. But the school, in a statement, said it was “committed to pay equity” and was reviewing the way it paid professors but had been hampered by the pandemic.

“Creating a new and complex faculty pay equity program that accounts for the variety of disciplines, individual schools, and titles at a university is challenging even in the best of times,” the school said.

The complaint comes days after Princeton University agreed to pay more than $1.2 million to women on the faculty after a federal investigation revealed that they were being paid less than male professors.

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published this page in News and Politics 2020-10-15 02:54:27 -0700