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Law professor files suit against UT, claims she was paid less than male colleagues

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A University of Texas at Austin law professor filed a lawsuit against the university Thursday claiming the school violated the Equal Pay Act by paying her less than her male counterpart. It also says she experienced sex discrimination and retaliation.

The suit was filed by Professor Linda Mullenix, and claims despite being “one of UT Law’s most distinguished professors” she was paid $134,449 less than a male colleague over the past three years. Mullenix is a tenured professor.

In the suit, the colleague is described as having the same above-average teacher evaluation rating as Mullenix but 10-years less experience than she has. It also claims he has less than a third of the published work and professional honors as Mullenix.

KXAN reached out to UT for a comment on the lawsuit. In an email, the university stated it, “strongly supports equitable pay based on merit and performance.”

Mullenix says UT previously retaliated against her due to her opposition to the school’s alleged unequal pay practices. The lawsuit says Mullenix was given one of the lowest raises of any faculty member in the 2019-19 school year, at $1,500. It alleges less-accomplished professors received $10,000 raises that same year.

“UT has taken efforts to ensure salary equity for faculty members across campus,” the school wrote in a statement. “Law school faculty pay is determined by a committee review of teaching, service, and scholarship with professional criteria applied to make these determinations.”

The school also provided links to its University Faculty Gender Equity Council page and the Faculty Gender Equity Report as further evidence of its effort to maintain equitable pay.

Additionally, the suit claims the school administration made Mullenix a “pariah” and said new professors were told she was “poison” and to stay away from her.

According to the lawsuit, when Mullenix first discovered the pay disparity between her and her male colleagues in 2010 she confronted the dean of the law school at the time. She said he told her if she brought a lawsuit she would “never be able to work anywhere again.” Mullenix settled an Equal Pay Act claim against the school in 2011, which increased her salary by $20,000. In this lawsuit, she also disputes how an additional $250,000 settlement is being disbursed by the school of law.

Mullenix is seeking all damages available under the law, according to the lawsuit. This includes monetary relief and equitable relief (such as a raise or promotion), as well as compensatory damages for emotional pain, suffering and mental anguish.

UT said it will provide additional details when it files a formal response to the lawsuit.