AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund Supports Sex Discrimination Suit against University of TennesseeAugust 12, 2014
Former athletic department professionals allege unequal pay practices, retaliation
The American Association of University Women Legal Advocacy Fund announced today that it will provide support to the plaintiffs in Moshak v. University of Tennessee, a case that underscores the everyday nature of gender discrimination in college athletics.
The lawsuit was filed in 2012 by Jennifer Moshak, Heather Mason, and Collin Schlosser, former employees of the University of Tennessee’s women’s athletics department. The plaintiffs allege sex discrimination and unlawful retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and the Equal Pay Act of 1963. They claim they were unlawfully discriminated against and eventually forced out of their positions during a university-led merger of the men’s and women’s athletic departments.
Schlosser and Mason argue in part that they were fired by UT after making internal complaints alleging unequal pay between the men’s and women’s athletic departments. Moshak claims she was forced to retire after being demoted and marginalized. The plaintiffs also say that during the merger, which was led by newly hired Athletic Director Dave Hart, the vast majority — 86 percent — of positions terminated either were held by women or were associated with the women’s athletic department.
“This case is an opportunity to grapple with some of the gender gaps still at play in university athletics,” said AAUW CEO Linda D. Hallman, CAE. “We are proud to stand with these plaintiffs in their fight for fairness. Their claims shine a light on why AAUW does this type of work, day in and day out.”
The case is currently scheduled to go to trial in June 2015 in the U.S. District Court for Eastern Tennessee.
“The University of Tennessee and its Athletic Director Dave Hart engaged in blatantly discriminatory and retaliatory actions against accomplished employees in the women’s athletic department, in violation of Title IX and other federal laws,” said the plaintiffs’ attorney, Lisa Banks, of Katz, Marshall, and Banks, a civil rights law firm in Washington, D.C. “Gender discrimination is unfortunately a situation that is all too common in collegiate athletic departments across the country today, and we intend to use all the tools at our disposal to hold the university accountable and to shed light on this pervasive problem.”
The AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund has been crucial to the success of many gender discrimination cases during its 33-year history. The case support program provides financial and organizational backing for plaintiffs challenging gender discrimination in education and the workplace. The funds come directly from the generous contributions of AAUW members.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law that prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, and religion.
The Supreme Court just doesn’t get the modern workplace. First it essentially tells Lilly Ledbetter that her employer had discriminated against her long enough to make it legal.
LAF provides financial and organizational support for a select number of cases in the workplace and in academia that have the potential to provide significant protection for all women.