Monday, March 31, 2008

Sex Discrimination in Pay: Schuster v. Berea College

Claire Schuster was the guest speaker at the 4/26/08 LAF Luncheon at the AAUW NYS Convention in Cooperstown, NY.

Claire Schuster, a tenured Associate Professor of Nursing at Berea College, sued the institution for sex discrimination in pay in violation of the Kentucky Civil Rights Act, as well as intentional infliction of emotional distress and breach of contract.

Claire Schuster began working at Berea College in 1995 as an Assistant Professor. In Spring 2001, she was awarded tenure, and in the spring of 2002, she was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor. In May 2002, she received a letter informing her that her salary for the next academic year would be $47,000, which included a salary increase associated with her promotion to the rank of associate professor. The letter included a chart comparing the average salaries of faculty at Berea with those of other similar institutions.

Schuster’s salary, according to this chart, was $5,000 less than the average for other Berea professors at her rank and only $600 more than the lowest salary within that salary range. At the same time, Schuster learned that the all-female nursing department had hired its first male faculty member at a salary that exceeded the salaries paid to female nursing faculty members, and that he had been hired directly into the associate level.

Believe it or not, this “game playing” with rank and salary grades is still going on, seventeen years after I left the business world. I was startled to read the facts of Claire Schuster’s case as they are similar in every way to my working experience in the corporate world. Only difference mine happened 17 years ago, hers happened in 2006.

Are we not making any progress?

The answer to that question is Yes, Yes, Yes!!!! Nothing compares to the “light of day” on the practices of pay discrimination against women. We must support these heroic women who become litigants in suits against the universities and colleges. Come to convention, meet Claire Schuster and donate to LAF so that we can continue to shed light on the situation of pay discrimination.

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