The University has agreed to pay a total of $87,500 to four female cardiologists after the U.S. Department of Labor found the employees were compensated less than their male counterparts. The department released the settlement on Oct. 2.
While conducting a routine compliance review, the Department of Labor found that four female cardiologists were paid less than male faculty members of similar stature during the 2016-17 fiscal year. The four employees were clinicians in the cardiovascular medicine section of the School of Medicine. Per the settlement’s terms, the University does not admit wrongdoing and the employees sign away their rights to sue.
“We are fighting hard for women to have the same pay as men,” Elizabeth Jonas ’82, co-chair of the Committee on the Status of Women in Medicine at the School of Medicine, wrote in an email to the News. “I think the problem will never be solved until the University publishes all salaries and pays according to a scale set by rank and seniority.”
During its evaluation of the University, the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs found that Yale had violated requirements that employers not discriminate based on gender.
Vicki Schultz, professor of law and social sciences, said that she suspects the OFCCP looks for a “significant, non-random deviation from the norm,” when conducting compliance reviews.
“Here there were 4 women being underpaid, not one, for example,” Schultz wrote in an email to the News. “The amounts were not trivial, and would be compounded over time through across-the-board, percentage raises.”
The University distributed the $87,500 among the four affected employees. Two of them received $27,500, while another got $20,000 and the last was awarded $12,500. These sums were calculated according to the back pay and interest that each employee should have received.
The four employees were hired when the Yale New Haven Health System acquired the practices where they worked. The practices’ compensation structures were kept intact during this transition. The previous contract led to the discrepancies in their salaries, the settlement stated.
University spokesperson Karen Peart underscored that the agreement involves only four employees out of more than 16,000 working at Yale. The OFCCP did not find any additional pay disparities, she added, and the cardiologists’ professional track has not existed for over two years. Instead, clinicians now work on the clinical track.
In the document, the OFCCP recognized that the hiring practice is no longer in place, and that compensation is now integrated into YNHH’s own payment system.
To receive the compensation, the employees had to agree not to file a discrimination suit against the University.
For its part, Yale must conduct internal audits and keep all records relevant to the violation. Additionally, the University must fill out progress reports on any pay adjustments for employees in the clinical track until September 2022 and submit these reports to the OFCCP.
Like other private employers, the University does not publicize faculty and staff pay, so many employees do not have a frame of reference for their salary compared to others in their field, Schultz explained.
“It’s almost impossible for people to know whether they are being underpaid relative to their peers based on impermissible criteria like sex or race,” Schultz told the News. “This is why measures to increase pay transparency, begun in the Obama administration but opposed by the current administration, are so important.”
The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs was created in 2009 as a subdivision of the Department of Labor.
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