Press Conference: Tuesday, December 8, 12:30 p.m.
Click here to RSVP and receive the Zoom link
Prime Sponsor of New Jersey’s Equal Pay Act Joined by Lawsuit Plaintiffs
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.—State Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, the prime sponsor of New Jersey’s groundbreaking Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act, will speak out to support five female professors who filed suit against Rutgers University this fall for violating the “equal pay for substantially similar work” standard set by the law.
Weinberg will appear at a virtual press conference on Tuesday, December 8, at 12:30 p.m. (RSVP here for the link) along with two of the plaintiffs, Nancy Wolff, a Distinguished Professor in the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, and Deepa Kumar, a Professor of Journalism and Media Studies. The press conference will be hosted by Nikol Alexander-Floyd, an Associate Professor of Political Science and Executive Council member of Rutgers AAUP-AFT, the union representing full-time faculty and graduate workers.
The lawsuit, filed in mid-October (read the complaint here), documents salary inequality dating back years affecting the five plaintiffs, who are all senior and highly accomplished women faculty members.
“Our Equal Pay Act was written because of this kind of longstanding inequity,” said Weinberg. “Progress toward closing the gender pay gap stalled out at the beginning of this century, and as a result, women in New Jersey still make just 82 cents for every dollar a man earns. That needs to change, and our state university can help show the way.”
“Rutgers has a new president, Jonathan Holloway, who has stated his commitment to equity and diversity,” Weinberg continued. “I hope he and his administration set an example for every institution to follow in addressing the cases of these five women and the wider issue of salary inequality.”
The lawsuit documents how each of the plaintiffs was substantially underpaid for years compared to male colleagues of equal accomplishment and experience. To take just one example, Judith Storch, a distinguished professor of nutritional sciences and the recipient of substantial and continuous National Institutes of Health grants throughout her 28 years teaching at Rutgers, is paid nearly $100,000 less each year than a male distinguished professor doing similar work. (Comparisons for all the plaintiffs are extensively documented in the complaint.)
Salary inequality has a history at Rutgers. More than half a century ago, the late US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg won a settlement in a pay equity claim made with her female colleagues against Rutgers University-Newark. “It is truly unfortunate that the five of us are fighting the same fight all over again,” wrote Wolff and Kumar in an op-ed article published at NJ.com.
The cases of the plaintiffs came to light because of a groundbreaking program to address pay inequity among faculty negotiated by their union, Rutgers AAUP-AFT, which joined with the plaintiffs in filing the complaint. The program allows faculty to apply for compensation in cases of pay discrimination based on race, gender, and other categories, as well as inequities across Rutgers’ three campuses—Newark, Camden and New Brunswick.
At least 130 faculty members have applied to the program since it took effect in July 2019. Many deans reviewed the applications that began coming in last year and greenlighted pay equity corrections, but the process stalled among top administrators, say union leaders. To date, the administration has not completed processing a single case.
Wolff and Kumar wrote that they are seeking salary equality after many years of falling behind male colleagues. “We played by the rules and asked respectfully,” they wrote. “When these steps failed, we invoked the law…
“We call upon Dr. Jonathan Holloway, our new president, to put his commitment to equity into practice. If we are to be a ‘beloved community’ that Dr. Holloway envisions us to be, then Rutgers must treat all members of this community fairly and equitably. Let’s stop the legacy of pay inequity for women with this generation and put an end to this injustice altogether.”
# # #
Read the complaint filed in state superior court
Read the Rutgers AAUP-AFT press release on the lawsuit
Read the NJ.com op-ed article by Nancy Wolff and Deepa Kumar
Read media statements from plaintiffs Deepa Kumar, Nancy Wolff, and Judith Storch