Legal Advocacy Fund Cases
Read on for quick updates on the status of our currently supported cases, and click on the case name for more in-depth information. Looking for a past case? Check out the full list.
Adopted September 2019
Professor Jennifer J. Freyd, a respected senior faculty member in the University of Oregon’s Psychology Department, is paid significantly less than many of her male colleagues of equal rank as a result of “retention raises,” or salary increases given in the face of a competing offer. In this case, Professor Freyd has taken action against the University, contending that the University’s practice of granting such raises without equalizing salaries of other faculty of comparable merit has a disparate impact on women and violates the Equal Pay Act, Title VII, Title IX and Oregon’s sex discrimination law
To ensure access to education for women and girls, AAUW advocates for the full protections of Title IX. AAUW’s Legal Advocacy Fund supports this case to reform the sexual assault hearing process on campuses. Currently, alleged assailants have multiple opportunities to re-victimize survivors through the hearings process, under the guise of due process.
Jane Doe, et al v. Howard University is a case involving six current and former Howard University female students (Jane Does) who reported sexual assaults in 2014, 2015, and 2016. They allege that these assaults were committed by male employees and students at the university.
“The admonition has always been, how dare I use my voice. How dare I speak out for others? But, most importantly, how dare I challenge and resist patriarchal and sexist oppression in the fight for equality. Most will not yield to a voice. Instead, they ensure that the cost of speaking/fighting takes everything from those who often only have a little. That is the silencing strategy.”
— Zoe Spencer, Ph.D.
Zoe Spencer, Ph.D., was the Gender Equity Task Force chair at Virginia State University, but she alleges she’s been retaliated against for identifying deficits in gender equity, including unfair pay for herself and other women faculty.
Under Title IX universities must provide equal opportunities for students to participate in sports. Title IX compliance can be achieved in three ways: by ensuring proportionate opportunities for all athletes, by demonstrating a history of and continuing commitment to program expansion, or by fully and effectively accommodating the interest and abilities of the underrepresented sex. The plaintiffs in Portz v. St. Cloud State University allege that by proposing to eliminate two women’s sports teams entirely, St. Cloud State University is denying women athletes equal opportunity for participation in sports.
The eight student athletes AAUW supports in this case through the Legal Advocacy Fund legal case support program allege that Lock Haven University in Pennsylvania failed to comply with Title IX mandates on participation by gender. These students further claim they have experienced roster manipulation, a method some schools use to appear Title IX compliant when in fact they are in violation of the law.
Aileen Rizo is a math consultant for the Fresno County Office of Education (FCOE) in Fresno, California. She filed suit against the FCOE under equal pay and gender discrimination laws after discovering she was paid less than her male colleague who had less experience and seniority. Knowing that the use of salary history is one underlying factor of the gender wage gap, Rizo challenged the FCOE’s practice of basing pay exclusively on an employee’s salary history. On April 27, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit handed down an unfavorable decision in Rizo’s case. AAUW joined an amicus brief in support of Rizo’s petition for rehearing en banc — in front of all the judges of a court rather than only a selected panel — and urged the Ninth Circuit to reconsider, and on August 29 the Ninth Circuit Court granted a petition for rehearing en banc.