In 2013, Prof. Cheryl Kelsey filed a lawsuit against Texas A&M at San Antonio alleging sex discrimination and unequal pay. According to her lawsuit, she was hired as an associate professor by Texas A&M for the 2009-10 academic year. She was promoted to assistant professor for the 2011-12 school year. Yet, she was still paid less than a male associate professor and less than a lower-ranking male assistant professor. See San Antonio Express News report.
Unequal pay lawsuits are the most difficult. The Fifth Circuit has imposed a stiff standard. The standard requires female employees to show their male counter-part is in a nearly identical situation. It is very difficult to show that two co-workers are in “nearly identical” work situations. For example, a female clerk may have the same job title as her male counter-part, yet have very different job duties. In other cases, employers have avoided liability by arguing that the male counter-part was hired under different circumstances.
Dr. Kelsey’s suit was filed in federal court in May, 2013. It settled a year later before any motion to dismiss or for summary judgment had been filed. It appears the evidence for sex discrimination was strong. The plaintiff did list eight other professors as witnesses, suggesting those eight would have supported her allegations. It always helps when a plaintiff can rely on some co-workrs to support her story. See Kelsey v. Texas A&M at San Antonio, No. SA-13-CV-383 (W.D. Tex. 6/5/2014).