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Jul 10, 2013 08:21 AM EDT

Law Professor Sues School for Violating Equal Pay Act

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Professor Lucy Marsh, a University of Denver law professor has filed a federal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Tuesday against the Sturm College of Law for practising gender discrimination and violating the Equal Pay Act.

She accused the law school of paying her less than a man doing the same job and for failing to make amends even after it was brought to their notice.

Marsh claims that her annual salary of $109,000 is the lowest among other full-time paid professors at the law school, despite her teaching experience, awards and publications. The average full time teaching salary is $149,000.

"Professor Marsh believes that she and other female professors at the law school were discriminated against with respect to compensation because of their gender and were paid less than men performing substantially equal work under similar conditions in the same establishment," the filing says.

She learnt about the pay inequality through a salary memo in December from Dean Martin Katz. The memo discussed pay hikes for certain professors and showcased inequalities between the salary of male and female faculty. It states that the female full time professors at the school earn on average of $16,000 less than a male professor in a year.

Marsh was annoyed after she saw the salary structure on the memo.

"We are all working on the same team and we all do the same thing for the team, but the men are getting paid distinctly more than the women are getting paid," Marsh said. "I was absolutely shocked to see that discrepancy and that blatant admission of discrepancy and to see it is getting worse."

Marsh began teaching at the university in 1973 and became a full time professor in 1982. Until now, she never demanded a raise.

The Equal pay Act was introduced by former president John F. Kennedy 50 years ago which demands equal compensation to a person performing the same task at the same venue, regardless of the gender.

"What I hope comes out of this is not just fair compensation to professor Marsh and to fix the system, but hopefully there will be lessons learned that other universities, law schools and employers can look at and say, 'This is something that we can look at, to make sure the women are not paid less for equal work,' " said Jennifer Reisch, one of Marsh's lawyers and legal director of Equal Rights Advocates, a national civil rights organization.

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