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Court Revisits Pay Disparity Suit Against University of Oregon

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A federal appeals court has revived a lawsuit against the University of Oregon (UO) relating to the alleged gender pay gap between its male and female professors. 

Jennifer Joy Freyd, a psychology professor from the university, claimed that four male colleagues who share the same rank and seniority as her were paid thousands more annually.

In 2014, the UO Psychology Department passed salary information to Freyd when she noticed that she earned $14,000 and $42,000 less each year compared to four male colleagues who were of equal rank and tenure.

A panel consisting of three judges on the 9th US Circuit of Appeals reviewed the case and stated as part of its review that Freyd and her male co-workers were designated with the same fundamental tasks. While both performed equal work, the men enjoyed significantly higher compensation.

“We think that a reasonable jury could find that Freyd’s statistical analysis shows a prima facie case of disparate impact,” 9th Circuit Judge Jay S. Bybee wrote in the majority opinion.

Gender-Based Discrimination

The suit was filed under the Equal Pay Act, which states “every worker must get equal pay for equal work regardless of gender, race, age, or other protected characteristics.”

The recent ruling reversed a previous decision by US District Judge Michael J. McShane, sending the suit back to trial. The decision comes at Freyd’s retirement to professor emeritus at UO.

In its response, UO stated that deliberations are underway whether to appeal the decision or face trial. The university pointed out that the panel did not revive the allegations that the university intentionally discriminated against workers based on their gender.

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