Washington State University has agreed to settle a discrimination complaint brought by three women who said they were denied promotions because they complained about budget-cutting plans and salary inequities.
The settlement includes a rare admission that the university was at fault.
“WSU has recognized that there were serious concerns within the College of Education and we addressed some of those issues,” said Geoffrey Gamble, vice provost for academic affairs, in a statement agreed to by the women.
Some details of the settlement have yet to be worked out. But the school and the women have agreed on payments of $70,000 to $80,000 per woman, said Barbara Petura, a university spokeswoman.
In a suit filed in January in Whitman County Superior Court, Sue Durrant, Marilyn Mowatt and Joanne Washburn claimed then-Education Dean Bernard Oliver and Assistant Dean Lawrence Bruya retaliated against them for their vocal opposition to budget-cutting plans and complaints of salary discrimination against women in the college.
The women were teaching 50 percent more courses than men and had nearly twice as many students, they said. The heavy workloads in turn made it difficult for them to advance professionally, they said.
Durrant said Friday it was unfortunate the women had to file suit to see their concerns addressed but credited the university for then taking the initiative to reach a settlement.
“It’s been a long process,” she said. “… With the university indicating a willingness to address this, we feel vindicated.”
Provost Gretchen Bataille said the settlements are to adjust for past salary discrepancies. The school has also agreed to provide computer equipment and extra professional support for the women.