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University Lawsuit Ripple Effect: Sex-Bias Probe at SUNY

October 9, 2007

Albany, NY – Some of the issues that sparked a federal sex discrimination lawsuit against Adelphi University are also under study by the union that represents the faculty at State University of New York (SUNY), and equal pay for female professors is likely to be an issue in ongoing SUNY contract talks. Adelphi defends its compensation practices vigorously, but the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) says records show a pattern of pay disparity for similar work.

Dr. Fred Floss, vice president for academics with United University Professions, says the competing demands on young women put female faculty members at a disadvantage that must be addressed institutionally -— and not just at colleges.

"Higher education has to be the leading force. We expect women to do so much more in the child-rearing area, but we also expect them to compete on the same playing field with men, and that leads to inequities. There's no way society is going to be able to get over this problem if we don't address these issues."

Adelphi says the lawsuit doesn't adequately account for factors such as seniority, areas of expertise, and market demand. Floss believes milestones for professors should be adjusted for other factors, including child care and maternity or paternity leave. Adelphi claims it already considers those issues in its salary decisions.

SUNY's faculty union, which represents professionals at 29 New York campuses, wants improved practices written into its new contract. Professors have been working without a contract since early July.

John Robinson, Public News Service - NY