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Press Release 10-06-2021

EEOC’s Sex Discrimination Claims Against the University of Miami to Proceed to Trial

Federal Court Denies University’s Motion for Summary Judgment on Equal Pay Act and Title VII Claims

MIAMI – A federal judge has ordered a sex and wage discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against the University of Miami (UM) to proceed to trial, the federal agency announced today.

In its lawsuit, filed on July 29, 2019, the EEOC charged that UM paid a female professor in its political science department $28,000 per year less than a male professor in the same department.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act (EPA). The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

On April 19, UM filed a motion for summary judgment, alleging that it was entitled to an immediate judgment in its favor and without trial because, it contended, the female professor was not similarly situated to the male professor and the differences in pay could be explained away by factors such market forces and differences in publications. UM admitted, however, that the female professor is paid less than the male professor.

On Sept. 29, Judge Robert N. Scola, Jr. issued an order denying in its entirety UM’s motion for summary judgment. Judge Scola further granted summary judgment in favor of the EEOC on two of UM’s affirmative defenses. The court held that a jury must decide whether the two professors hold substantially equal positions. The court noted that both professors are tenure-track full professors, within the political science department, and that they teach the same number of courses at the introductory and upper-class levels.

The court also rejected the notion that UM had shown that other factors, such as the market, could explain away the pay differential. According to the court, “[T]here is no evidence that in 2009, [the male professor] had received any competing offers for employment or had tested the market by any means other than simply asking the University for a higher offer.”

Finally, the court granted summary judgment in favor of the EEOC on UM’s conciliation and laches defenses. The court noted that EEOC has full discretion over the pace and duration of its conciliation efforts, and that the EEOC did not delay in bringing the lawsuit where it was filed approximately one year after the charge of discrimination.

Judge Scola’s decision denying UM’s motion for summary judgment clears the way for trial, which is currently scheduled for Dec. 6.

The Miami District Office’s jurisdiction includes Florida, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.