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Rutgers University created a program to address wage inequities after New Jersey's new state legislation. (Photo by Tomwsulcer | CC0 1.0)

Five female professors are suing Rutgers University, accusing the institution of paying them tens of thousands of dollars less annually than their male counterparts. The move comes days after Princeton University announced a settlement to address pay inequity. 

This lawsuit arrives two years after New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed state legislation which has since been praised as one of the nation’s strongest equal pay laws. After its passing, Rutgers created a program to address wage inequalities, allowing professors to document that they are underpaid compared to their colleagues doing similar work. 

According to the lawsuit, however, the institution has not addressed more than 130 of the cases that have been reported.

Female employees have raised similar equal pay challenges recently against universities across the country, including Northern Michigan University, the University of Arizona and the University of Denver.

On Oct. 5, Princeton announced that female professors would be paid almost $1.2 million in a settlement to address pay inequalities found by a federal investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor. 

In 2016, the Penn Senate Committee on the Economic Status of the Faculty's annual report revealed that female faculty earned 2 to 3 percent less than male faculty in the University’s 2015 fiscal year after the statistics were adjusted to account for differences in department, rank, and tenure. While the gap was considered statistically insignificant, the Senate committee underscored possible effects of the pay difference, including less take-home pay and retirement benefits.

“My hope is that by speaking out along with my sister plaintiffs, I might help bring to light the problem of pay inequity at Rutgers,” plaintiff and distinguished nutritional sciences professor Judith Storch said at a Thursday press conference.

“I sincerely hope that the University will do the right thing, not just by the five of us, but for everyone who is paid less for doing substantially equal work as their peers.”