UO lawyers blame pay gap on the faculty union, students support Freyd

After taking an extra month – what’s the hurry when you bill by the hour – UO’s lawyers finally filed a response to Professor Freyd’s gender discrimination lawsuit. The case is now set for jury trial on Sept 17, 2018. Docket here, UO’s response here.

It looks like UO’s lawyers, Paula A. Barran and Shayda Zaerpoor Le of Portland’s Barran Liebman LLP, are going to fall back on the “blame it on the union” legal strategy:

That’s stretching the truth, even for lawyers. Nothing in the Collective Bargaining Agreement prevents the university administration from giving faculty additional raises for any reason, and certainly not for gender equity! And if there were, would it be legally enforceable? I doubt it. In any case the negotiated raises are floors, not ceilings.

And what in the world is a “standard across-the-board merit raise”? I’m no employment lawyer, but apparently UO’s lawyers didn’t read the contract, which gives a pretty clear explanation of how across-the-board and merit are different things.

Meanwhile ~60 UO Psychology grad students have written a letter supporting Prof. Freyd. Letter with signatures here:

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Open Letter to Dr. Jennifer J. Freyd

Dear Dr. Jennifer J. Freyd,

We, the undersigned graduate students in the UO Department of Psychology, would like to take this opportunity to thank you.

Knowledge of the wage disparity you have endured stirred many emotions in us, including sadness, frustration, anger, fear, and hurt. While we each have our own experiences around this issue, we want to let you know that we appreciate you bringing to light a pervasive issue that is often dismissed and demanding that this discrimination be remedied.

In addressing gender discrimination, you have indirectly given much to us graduate students. Not the least of which is hope. Hope for a life in which such discrimination is a thing of the past. And hope that we, in our own ways, can fight for equality in all forms for ourselves and our colleagues.

Therefore, we sincerely express our support and gratitude.

Thank you.

With appreciation,

UO Psychology Graduate Students

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21 Responses to UO lawyers blame pay gap on the faculty union, students support Freyd

  1. hmm says:

    “Equality in all forms” sounds a touch socialist for my taste. Do we know if prof. Freud ever bothered to get an outside offer?

    • Anonymous says:

      “bothered to get an outside offer ..”

      Generating and outside offer is time consuming and is generally done to make a statement to your current University. Most of the time the faculty member is not interested in moving – but some times an extraordinary offer does occur.

      But none of us faculty should really be spending our time in this area – it has just become necessary here at the UO. But this is certainly more work than just a “bother”

    • UO Matters says:

      I don’t know about her. But I’ve been recruited a few times by other universities. I had no intention of leaving UO, and I told them that.

      One chair persisted anyway – “just come, maybe you’ll like our department, and at worst you can use it to get a raise at UO”. So I went, gave a couple talks, got wined and dined, and wasted a lot of everyone’s time. I told my chair about the job talk, and he told me that if I got a job offer in writing I could probably get a small counter-offer from UO. But that would have required that I lie to faculty at the other university about my sincere interest, put them and my letter writers through a lot more trouble. I’m no saint, but the payoff didn’t seem high enough.

      • Dog says:

        sorry that I didn’t sign my previous comment as Dog, but it was a dog comment

        I fully also agree with UOmatters about the compromising one’s integrity by playing this game. I can tell from experience is that the faculty I have seen play this game are, in general, the kind of faculty with character that you do NOT want at your University. These people are trying to maximize their own salary as their first priority – this is not why people become faculty (tho I know longer remember the reasons that I did it …)

        • prof from another school says:

          UO is a research U. The colleagues I want around do their job very well, particularly their research, and are decent folks too. if they do their research very well they will be in demand, and UO will have to pay them well to keep them around; and they should expect this. The U may require they demonstrate quality by outside offers, although I personally think any good U can add to that other vehicles to show quality high.
          No faculty is suspect because she/he expects to be treated fairly. This is NOT a game at all, and does not compromise one’s integrity; we should not ask faculty to act foolish.
          I encourage young faculty to do a bang-up-job, and what ever is necessary[ but not lawsuits] to be well paid for it. And all faculty should support this, in my opinion.

          • UO Matters says:

            Why not lawsuits, when they are necessary? That’s what the law is for – working these disputes out in a way that provides clearer lines for others to follow.

            • prof from another school says:

              I am not a lawyer, but an academic with 40+ of experience, which includes a low salary because I refused to use outside offers to negotiate; I have great empathy for her state. BUT, I simply cant see where retention offers are gender discrimination, and thus unlawfull. I will pay attention to the case to see who prevails.

          • Dog says:

            I am not, in general, talking about research productive faculty. There is a certain faculty profile that simply wants to ascend a
            salary ladder.

      • reaction says:

        Are you kidding me Bill? It takes your letter-writers an hour to whip something up, a few hours of busywork from the department head from the opposing university, and a few hours of busywork for Bruce and some other admins for you to get an offer and leverage it. Let’s call it 20 hours total (bet it’s less). In response to that, let’s say you would have gotten a $7k bump annually, for 20 years. $140k. After taxes, maybe $100k. Not chump change! Now let’s say being dishonest in this case costs you $20k in disutility. Netting that out, the implication is your WTP to avoid inconvenience for colleagues/admins is about $4k/hour. You should have gotten the raise and sent everyone you inconvenienced a bottle or three of Laphroaig. Everyone wins!

        Anyone, knock it all you want, but external offers are how you get raises in academia. If she hasn’t sought one out, that’s why the salary is lower, not discrimination.

        • Dog says:

          You also generally have to visit the place for 2-3 days to sell yourself – if it were as simple as you say, this would be done
          on a routine basis

          • reaction says:

            A) Bill already had done the visit and B) Yes, it is routine for underpaid folks that have market value to do this.

        • prof from another school says:

          Let us assume all of her salary differential is due to lack of retention (counter) offers, the main way salary differentials are created in academia. Both legal documents are a bit unclear on this [ her’s seems to acknowledge it]. It seems that she has gotten decent merit raises, on a yr by yr basis. And her better paid colleagues have gotten retention offers. I assume this true.
          ,Consider for a moment …
          people sometimes get big raises based on external indicators of quality, like nobel prizes, and the UO response seems to be saying that nothing in her record is sufficiently better than her dept colleagues to warrant this as the basis for salary adjustment. So set this aside. Also set aside the other main way people get big raises that carry foreword, namely administrators who return to faculty ranks, and retain some part of their gain by being an administrator. This is common at many R1 schools.

          Regardless of all the opinions in this and the previous thread about the desirability of outside offers creating the differential, the real issue in the law suit seems to be if THIS is gender discrimination, and thus illegal.
          The UO position is that it is not, and quite legal, indeed SOP.

          • prof from another school says:

            I suppose retention offers COULD be used in a way that IS gender discrimination, if the Univ’s response was in a particular case based on gender, and not the merit of the case otherwise. BUT I would like someone wiser than I to explain how the concept of retention offers as a main vehicle to getting raises is gender discrimination . I have read her lawsuit, and personally find her argument unconvincing.

            • UO Matters says:

              I’m no lawyer, which means I can google legal stuff without being accused of malpractice. Try “lack of discriminatory intent is a complete defense” and you’ll get this set of handy flash cards for the bar exam: https://quizlet.com/110691572/blaw-300-exam-4-ch-18-flash-cards/

              Q: Lack of discriminatory intent is a complete defense to a charge of unlawful employment discrimination.
              A: False.

              Q: Compensatory damages are only available for victims of intentional employment discrimination.
              A: False.

              Q: To establish a prima facie case of discrimination under Title VII, a plaintiff must show that discriminatory intent motivated an employer’s decision.
              A: False

              Or try the DOJ’s website: https://www.justice.gov/crt/laws-enforced-employment-litgation-section

              “Title VII prohibits not only intentional discrimination, but also practices that have the effect of discriminating against individuals because of their race, color, national origin, religion, or sex.”

              Perhaps this is why UO’s defense is so heavy on the “blame it on the union” angle – they don’t have much else of a defense?

  2. Max Powers says:

    Have you ever seen a grievance from the faculty union when you give an increase to some faculty members in addition to what is in the collective bargaining agreement? I have! Some faculty were given a little extra for very legitimate reasons and the union filed a grievance to take it away as it was not in the CBA and everyone didn’t get it.

    • UO Matters says:

      The UO Faculty Union has never filed such a grievance. In fact, while the university administration has tried to argue that the CBA prohibits additional raises to individual faculty, it does not. The union has called the administration out on these false claims before, and it’s looking like we will have to again.

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