As a professor at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law, Lucy Marsh has an impressive record as a teacher and researcher. Her advocacy for student leadership in the field of law began in the mid-1960s when she attended the University of Michigan and helped to create the first clinical program at that institution’s law school. Marsh joined the University of Denver (DU) faculty in 1973 and earned promotion to full professor in 1982. She has won awards for teaching excellence and many community honors as a member of the DU faculty.
In early 2012, a female colleague named Ann Scales challenged the law school to address pay inequalities for female faculty. Despite additional funding, pay gaps persisted. Full-time male faculty in the DU law school earned nearly $16,000 more than their female colleagues. After Scales passed away in June 2012, Marsh took up this cause.
Marsh discovered that she had also received substantially less pay than her male peers in the Sturm College of Law. Despite her impressive record of scholarship and teaching, she earned $40,000 less than the college’s median salary. Even though she served for four decades on the faculty, Marsh was the lowest-paid full-time professor in DU’s law school. She launched a lawsuit in 2013 seeking redress for this salary disparity. Six female peers on the DU Sturm College of Law’s faculty joined her as plaintiffs.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission joined the suit in 2015, largely due to the strength of Marsh’s claim. On May 17, 2018, news reports announced that DU has agreed to settle with the seven Sturm College of Law faculty by paying $2.66 million and awarding them salary increases that will ultimately eliminate the gender pay gap. In announcing the settlement, DU officials claimed they had a strong case but decided to offer a settlement to “heal our community and move forward together.”
This settlement moves DU’s law school forward in offering pay transparency for faculty. Salary information will be available for Sturm faculty through an intranet site that they can access. In addition, the settlement calls for annual pay studies to assure equity, as well as the presence of an external consultant for six years to assure that retaliation against the female faculty members does not occur.