The Legal Beat
Longtime Law School Professor Sues University For Equal Pay
Posted on Wednesday November 20, 2019
Josephine Potuto is the longest continuously serving professor — regardless of gender — at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Law, but according to a new lawsuit filed this week, she isn’t paid like it. The complaint alleges that Potuto’s pay is less than her male colleagues, and further alleges that when she repeatedly complained about the unequal pay she was removed from her role as UNL’s faculty athletics representative — a position she’s held since 1997 — in retaliation.
Additionally, the suit alleges that the UNL Commission on the Status of Women has repeatedly cited unequal pay as an issue at the university. Plus, the plaintiff alleges that the law school dean, Richard Moberly, has specifically referenced Potuto’s compensation as an example of gender-based pay disparity.
So what’s the disparity in numbers? The Omaha World-Herald has the details:
The NU system lists Potuto’s salary as $229,460, compared with long-serving law colleagues Robert Denicola’s $273,653 and Martin Gardner’s $256,755. [Potuto’s lawyer Kathleen Neary] said Potuto has no problem with her male colleagues’ compensation, but she wants equal pay.
Those figures include “endowed chairs” for all three (endowed chairs honor distinguished faculty members and are added to base pay) and Potuto’s $5,500 per year as faculty athletics representative.
And remember, Potuto is the longest serving prof at the law school, and she has the requisite accolades that accompany such a tenure.
The university offered the following statement on the litigation:
UNL spokeswoman Deb Fiddelke said her institution “has reviewed the claims of Professor Potuto” and found them without merit. “The university is prepared to defend itself against these claims and is confident that it will ultimately prevail.”
We’ll definitely be following along to see how the case gets resolved.
Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, and host of The Jabot podcast. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter (@Kathryn1).