Monday, April 5, 2021

9th Circuit's Equal Pay Act decision could have ramifications for retention offers to faculty

MOVING TO FRONT FROM MARCH 18--APOLOGIES FOR THE DELAY IN APPROVING COMMENTS; MORE WELCOME

Blog Emperor Caron excerpts the relevant parts of the decision.   To put it simply:  if Professor Male turns down an offer from Harvard for an extra 40k in salary, Professor Female (in the same department, doing the same general kind of work, who previously had been paid the same as Professor Male) may have an equal pay claim even if she never got a Harvard offer.   Thoughts from experts on these issues?  Do I misunderstand the potential import of the decision?  Submit your comment only once, it may take awhile to appear.

https://leiterlawschool.typepad.com/leiter/2021/04/9th-circuits-equal-pay-act-decision-could-have-ramifications-for-retention-offers-to-faculty.html

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Comments

The current situation in US academics, where nontrivial raises can only be obtained by seeking employment elsewhere, is a cynical outsourcing of what should be a basic management task, deciding whether an individual's work merits a pay raise. When my department is seeking a new faculty member, why should I have to waste my time on a candidate from a different university who is not really interested in the job? For that matter, why should a faculty member who is so committed to their department or school that they don't want to consider leaving it be at a salary disadvantage to a colleague who is not?

Posted by: D. Ross | Mar 20, 2021 4:41:21 PM

You have likely received plenty of comments on this so I will keep this relatively short and feel free to edit as you see fit: I have been a little surprised at the way this has caught the attention of academics as this is not a new issue and the 9th Circuit recently had a more interesting case (not involving higher ed) on whether basing salaries on past salaries is discriminatory, which is really just a version of the same issue. A number of states have also passed legislation that prohibit employers from asking about past salaries, though these laws typically permit individuals to reveal their past salaries. The general idea is that employers should not be able to justify salary disparities based on market discrimination: if women are discriminated against in salary setting an employer should not be able to benefit by that fact. In academia, this is largely about outside offers, which are more likely to be made to men in the event they are more likely to be willing to relocate. I thought the case discussed this issue quite well, and one remedy is to made equity adjustments for all professors as many schools have done, and if in fact, the male Professor who receives a higher offer elsewhere is worth that amount, then the current University could likely justify paying more. But again, not a new issue, just a slight twist on a long-standing concern, as reffected in the court's brief mention of comparable worth, something that died more or less in the 1980s.

Posted by: Michael Selmi | Mar 22, 2021 9:18:18 PM

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