Freyd v. University of Oregon, No. 19-35428 (9th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Oregon, filed suit against the University, alleging claims under the Equal Pay Act, Title VII, Title IX, and Oregon law. Plaintiff claims that there is a gender disparity in pay that is department wide and is caused by the University's practice of granting "retention raises" to faculty as an incentive to remain at the University when they are being courted by other academic institutions. Plaintiff also alleges that female professors at the University are less likely to engage in retention negotiations than male professors, and when they do, they are less likely to successfully obtain a raise. The district court granted summary judgment for the University on all counts.
The Ninth Circuit concluded that the district court erred in granting summary judgment on the Equal Pay Act claim because a reasonable jury could find that plaintiff and her comparators did substantially equal work. Furthermore, plaintiff has raised a genuine issue of material fact under Oregon Revised Statute 652.220 for the same reasons she has done so under the Equal Pay Act. The panel also concluded that the district court erred in granting summary judgment on the Title VII disparate impact claim where there is at least a genuine issue of material fact as to whether plaintiff established a prima facie case of disparate impact. However, plaintiff cannot establish a prima facie case of disparate treatment because equity raises and retention raises are not comparable and the panel could not say that plaintiff's comparators were treated "more favorably" than was plaintiff in this context. Consequently, summary judgment was also proper on plaintiff's claim under Oregon Revised Statute 659A.030. The panel also affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on plaintiff's Title IX claim and state constitutional claim.