Copyright © 2016 Albuquerque Journal
A government agency in charge of enforcing federal employment discrimination laws said the University of New Mexico pays male professors more than women in several departments and must correct the disparity.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission came to that conclusion following a review earlier this year.
“The investigation revealed that UNM failed to provide persuasive evidence that factors other than sex accounted for the disparity in pay,” read an Oct. 28 letter to UNM. “The full professor positions require substantially equal skill, effort, responsibility and were performed under similar working conditions within the same establishments. (UNM) failed to articulate a non-discriminatory explanation for the pay disparity that withstood scrutiny.”
The letter didn’t indicate how steep the disparity between men and women is. UNM administrators said it was unclear how the EEOC reached its conclusion, while challenging its decision.
The Journal obtained the letter through an Inspection of Public Records Act request.
The EEOC’s letter is the latest in an investigation that started in 2011 and the scope of which stretches back to 2008.
The EEOC determination addresses about 40 full professors, including 24 currently employed, in four departments – economics, English, linguistics and marketing, according to UNM administrators. Full professors generally have at least a decade’s worth of experience and have reached one of the highest academic rankings for faculty. UNM employs about 1,000 regular faculty members, some 220 of which are full professors.
UNM administrators, including President Bob Frank, challenged the EEOC’s conclusions on Monday. He attributed most of the pay differences to disparities in experience, personal performance and field of study.
And UNM administrators said the university had spent nearly $2 million in the past four years to make pay more equitable for all employees.
“Any shortfall in predicted salaries on the basis of gender, race or ethnicity, no matter how small, is unacceptable and UNM will continue to take all appropriate steps to remedy them,” said Carol Parker, an administrator.
On Monday, Kimberly Smith-Brown, the spokeswoman with the EEOC, said the agency can neither confirm nor deny the existence of “charge filings, investigations or administrative resolutions.” She added information about individual cases become public only if the EEOC files a lawsuit, which is usually a “last resort.”
“If we file a lawsuit, we post the press release announcing the litigation on our website and make our attorneys available for questions,” Smith-Brown wrote to the Journal on Monday.
The EEOC has given UNM the option to discuss settlement. Frank said UNM is willing to enter talks, but will not waive its rights on the statute of limitations defense.