Court Case: Brodsky v. Kaleida Health and State University of New York at Buffalo

Case Adopted 02/03

Case Update (04/08):
Brodsky settled her case with SUNY-Buffalo and resolved all related litigation.

Case History

Linda Brodsky, a medical doctor and tenured full professor at SUNY-Buffalo sued the university for pay inequity in violation of Title VII and the Equal Pay Act and retaliation for complaining about pay inequity in violation of Title VII.

SUNY-Buffalo hired Brodsky in 1983 as a clinical instructor in otolaryngology, a non-salaried position. In 1984 she was appointed assistant professor and began receiving an annual salary of $15,000 and geographic full time (“GFT”) designation of .25 full-time equivalent (FTE) — a status that, Brodsky asserts, gives a faculty member the same responsibilities as other faculty for less money (Brodsky’s salary percentage is one-quarter of an FTE) and fewer contractual protections. In 1996, after much delay between promotions, Brodsky was promoted to full professor, but because of the FTE designation, her salary remains low. In 2001, her salary as a tenured full professor was $32,187.

Brodsky asserts that the contractually mandated SUNY salary minimum for a full professor in her position is $48,679. Notwithstanding her achievements, experience, research, scholarship and teaching, Brodsky charges that she has not received equal pay for equal work. She has continually received outstanding performance evaluations. She further alleges that male doctors have been recruited to the department with lesser qualifications but higher SUNY salary through non-GFT and/or FTE percentage designations. Since 1989, SUNY has refused to reduce or eliminate the disparity of Brodsky’s salary as compared to similarly situated men.

From 1987 to 2001, Brodsky applied six times for discretionary SUNY salary increases. Two increases were granted: in 1987 for $2,000 and in 1989 for $1,500. Since 1989, Brodsky’s requests for salary increases have been denied despite her outstanding qualifications. In her attempts to remedy the situation, Brodsky noted that a significant number of male colleagues with similar or lesser qualifications, contributions and achievements received salary increases in 1990, 1995, and 1998.

Brodsky cites numerous studies demonstrating recurring discrimination against female faculty in support of her pay inequity charge. In addition, Brodsky charges SUNY with retaliation after she complained of pay inequity. In 1998 SUNY removed Brodsky’s tenure, compensation, and benefits by unilaterally changing her status to non-salaried voluntary faculty. SUNY restored her status when Brodsky initiated litigation on the matter.

Brodsky filed suit in federal district court in September 2001.

Key Case Issues

Pay inequity in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act of 1963, and retaliation for complaining about pay inequity in violation of Title VII.