Princeton agrees to backpay nearly $1M to female professors after gender discrimination allegations

As part of the agreement, the university admits no wrongdoing.

October 8, 2020, 3:51 PM

Princeton University has agreed to pay $925,000 in back pay and at least $250,000 in future salary adjustments to resolve allegations of pay disparities based on gender brought about by the U.S. Department of Labor.

As part of the agreement, the Ivy League college admits no wrongdoing or liability in the Labor Department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs investigation.

The OFCCP said that according to the preliminary findings of the investigation, pay disparities existed at the university for 106 female professors between 2012 and 2014.

"The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs is satisfied that Princeton University has pursued an early resolution conciliation agreement, and addressed the issues found in our review," OFCCP Director Craig E. Leen said in a statement.

"Early resolution conciliation agreements are an effective tool for contractors to ensure equitable pay to employees, enhance internal salary equity reviews, and proactively correct any disparities uncovered," Leen added.

Princeton University spokesperson Ben Chang told ABC News in a statement that the OFCCP started their probe of alleged bias based on gender almost a decade ago, called it off in 2016 and then reopened it for "unexplained reasons" in 2017.

Princeton University, New Jersey
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Chang added that the university contested the OFCCP's claims of an alleged gender-based pay gap for professors between February 2012 and January 2014, saying it "was based on a flawed statistical model that grouped all full professors together regardless of department and thus bore no resemblance to how the University actually hires, evaluates, and compensates its faculty."

"In other words, a professor of English cannot perform the duties of a professor in the Physics department, and vice versa," he noted.

Still, Chang said the university entered the agreement with the OFCCP to "resolve their long-running dispute and end the compliance review."

He added that Princeton "continues to assert that it complied with both the letter and the spirit of the law" and a university analysis found "no meaningful pay disparities based on gender."

"Princeton’s commitment to equity and equal opportunity for all is ongoing, and current University initiatives include conducting a review of faculty salaries at the time of hire and in the annual merit increase process to ensure equity; engaging in hiring initiatives in fields with low representation of women; and encouraging women to serve in leadership positions, including as department chairs and school deans," Chang said.