DENVER (Legal Newsline) – The University of Denver is defending itself after allegations of discrimination against female professors were levied by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The EEOC recently filed a lawsuit against the university claiming it pays female employees less than their male counterparts.

“The guarantee of equal pay for equal work applies to the professional academic setting of a university just the same as any other workplace,” EEOC Phoenix District Office Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill has said.

The EEOC has accused the university of discriminating against female full law professors at Sturm College of Law by paying them less than the male law professors doing similar work in similar conditions. Something the agency said violates the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

However, the university refutes the claims.

“The University of Denver is committed to compensating its faculty fairly and equitably. In addition, the university is dedicated to its principles of equal employment opportunity and disputes the claims asserted by the EEOC,” the university told Legal Newsline in an email.

It also said that salaries for staff incorporate many factors.

“Professor salaries take into account a number of considerations, including employee‘s rank (assistant, associate, or full professor), scholarship, teaching, and service,” it said.

Officials said they have also been working to handle the compliant outside of the courts.

“University of Denver has been wholly cooperative with the EEOC since the initial filing in 2013, even attempting to reach a settlement before the lawsuit was filed," the university said.

"Unfortunately, all attempts at reaching a settlement were rejected.”

In the lawsuit, the EEOC has asked for back pay for wages lost, liquidated damages and punitive damages. It has also made a request that the salary for the alleged victims increases to the same level as their male counterparts.

The University of Denver was founded in 1864 and considers itself “one of the country’s premier private universities,” according to its website. It has more than 11,500 students, which includes those from 83 other countries. The Sturm College of Law website claims it is a “top 100 law school.”

Its non-discrimination statement states that it is university policy to “provide equal opportunity in employment to all employees and applicants.”

It also advises those who feel the university has not been operating according to the policy can contact its Director of Equal Opportunity Laura Maresca or the Director and Coordinator of Title IX Jean McAllister.

Located in Washington, D.C., the EEOC enforces federal non-discrimination laws and its website states that most employers with about 15 employees will be covered by EEOC laws.

It has been granted the authority to investigate alleged cases of employment discrimination. It is also legally allowed to file lawsuits if it is unable to settle the case any other way.

“We do not, however, file lawsuits in all cases where we find discrimination,” its website stated.

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