Tentative Settlements Approved in Class-Action Lawsuits
January 23, 2003
Contact: Melinda Voss, (651) 296-9443, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system has reached tentative settlement agreements with women faculty members at Minnesota State University, Mankato, and Winona State University who alleged that they had been paid less than male faculty members.
U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank this week gave preliminary approval to the proposed settlements in class-action lawsuits brought by the women. Under the proposed agreement with Minnesota State University, Mankato, 324 women faculty members will receive a total of $360,000 in back pay. Thirty-eight of the women who are current faculty members also will receive prospective pay increases totaling $145,779 per year. The proposed agreement between women faculty members and Winona State University will divide back pay of $150,000 among 208 women faculty members; 14 current women faculty members will receive a total of $51,808 in prospective pay increases. The agreements follow extensive mediation discussions between the parties.
"Although we disagree that women were paid less because of discriminatory actions, we are pleased to have this faculty dispute resolved. We know that all the parties would rather devote their full attention to the benefit of our students," said Gail Olson, the system's legal counsel. "We believe it is in the best interests of both these university communities to have these matters settled."
Olson said no acts of intentional discrimination were shown in the cases.
"Trials in these cases would have resulted in a battle of experts over statistics on the salaries of hundreds of faculty members hired over a number of years and in a variety of departments," Olson said. "We wanted to avoid the negative impact that lengthy trials, probably lasting several months, would have had on the campuses. These settlements allow us to move forward in a positive environment."
Similar lawsuits filed by women faculty members against Bemidji State University, Minnesota State University Moorhead and St. Cloud State University were settled in 2001 and 2002.
The original plaintiff in the Mankato case will recover an additional $15,000; the named plaintiff in the Winona lawsuit will receive an additional $15,000. The settlements also call for payments of attorneys' fees and costs totaling $1,193,000.
Under a schedule outlined in the agreement, written notices are being mailed to members of the class and other interested parties. A hearing for final approval of the settlements is set for March 28, 2003. Payments to eligible faculty would be made after final court approval.