Court Case: Hirschhorn v. University of Kentucky, et al.

Case History

Ricky Hirschhorn, former assistant professor in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Kentucky, sued the university for sex discrimination in the denial of tenure and pay inequity in violation of Kentucky state laws. She also sued officials at the university for other claims in violation of federal laws.

Hirschhorn joined the faculty in the school of biological sciences as a tenure-track assistant professor in 1985. She maintained that throughout her employment at the university, she demonstrated an ability for conducting reliable research and earned recognition for excellence in her field through her research and publications. Following a review of Hirschhorn’s tenure application, the university ultimately denied her tenure in 1991.

Hirschhorn questioned the criteria the university used when it determined that she had failed to measure up to her male colleagues. She maintained that her scholarly production and funding history equaled or surpassed those of many senior faculty members in her department in recent years. Additionally, she alleged that her performance and efficiency reports were equal to or better than similarly situated male employees and that the university maintained a policy and practice of sex discrimination and unequal pay towards women.

Hirschhorn filed suit in Kentucky state court in 1992. Following trial in 1995, a jury found in favor of the university. Hirschhorn’s appeal was denied.

Key Issues

Sex discrimination in the denial of tenure and pay inequity in violation of Kentucky state laws.