Letter from the Dean
Dear Members of the University of Denver Sturm College of Law Community:
As you are aware, the University of Denver entered into a consent decree with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in May 2018 in association with a lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado (EEOC et al. v. University of Denver, Civil Action No. 16-cv-02471-WYD-MJW) alleging discriminatory pay practices based on sex, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act of 1963. As required by the consent decree, and consistent with the commitments of the University of Denver and the Sturm College of Law to anti-discrimination and equitable compensation, I write to reaffirm our core commitments and to update you on our efforts in the realm of pay equity.
Equal pay for equal work is a foundational legal and moral principle. In furtherance of this principle, the consent decree requires the University of Denver and the Sturm College of Law to institute a number of measures designed to enhance pay transparency and pay equity. We enthusiastically embrace both the letter and spirit of these requirements:
- Posting signage in the Ricketson Law Building expressing our commitment to equitable compensation practices and encouraging employees to report any perceived incidents of discrimination;
- Adopting a new policy statement that articulates our core anti-discrimination principles, encourages individuals to report any conduct believed to be discriminatory, and emphasizes the University’s commitment to investigating such matters promptly and appropriately, and in an environment free from retaliation;
- Developing a new “know your rights” web page to educate faculty and staff members about equal opportunity and equal pay, including the reporting of suspected violations through a 24-hour hotline;
- Working with an Independent Consultant (Dean John White), an expert in higher education practices and anti-discrimination law, to enhance policies and procedures relating to evaluation and compensation;
- Retaining an external consulting firm (Edgeworth Economics) with extensive expertise in the field of labor economics to conduct an annual compensation equity study to determine whether any disparities in compensation are attributable to gender, or to gender combined with other protected characteristics;
- Disclosing the salaries and other compensation of tenure-stream faculty members and faculty members on long-term contracts with governance rights; and
- Instituting mandatory Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) training for employees, including training regarding the Equal Pay Act of 1963, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and other federal anti-discrimination laws.
Additionally, we intend to undertake the following voluntary measures – among others – designed to advance our commitment to pay equity:
- Instituting an external strategic communications campaign designed to affirm our adherence to pay equity and to educate external stakeholders about the continuing nationwide challenges in achieving it;
- Conducting internal pay equity analyses, at periodic intervals, to assess our pay policies and structure, and to make appropriate adjustments when warranted;
- Working with external organizations and individuals – including law firms, accounting firms, corporations, bar associations, governmental institutions, alumni, and civic leaders – to increase the representation of women in legal and civic institutions, including boards, courts, and law faculties;
- Offering a set of salary negotiation workshops for faculty members, staff members, and students – building on an innovative initiative instituted by the Association of American University Women (AAUW) – designed to empower individuals with the skills to negotiate compensation and other terms of employment more effectively; and
- Establishing a committee designed to assess best practices in evaluation and compensation and to furnish recommendations on such matters.
I am confident that this comprehensive set of measures will foster transparency, reward colleagues fairly for their contributions, advance equity, build trust, and – over time – materially strengthen our institution. Although this process will not be easy, I am confident that it will move our institution forward and make it a better community.
Although the Equal Pay Act of 1963 was enacted more than a half-century ago, considerable work remains. The project that we now need to undertake together reminds us all that securing the beneficial effects of law requires hard work, continued assessment, and earnest collaboration. As Dean of the Sturm College of Law, I pledge to commit my full leadership, energies, and moral capital to instituting a system of evaluation and compensation at the Sturm College of Law that is more equitable, transparent, and trusted – and, in doing so, to advance our stature as a national leader in pay equity.
Bruce P. Smith
University of Denver Sturm College of Law