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Pay discrimination at UT: plaintiff professor shares lawsuit details

University of Texas history professor Alberto Martínez released details about his pending lawsuit against his employer with Austonia, revealing a more thorough look into the events that led to him taking action against the university.

The incident occurred in 2018, after Martínez brought a supposed race-related pay discrepancy to the attention of his supervisor, whom Martínez said then retaliated and accused him of inappropriate conduct in numerous fashions. Both UT's Office of Inclusion and Equity, or OIE, and Martínez say the supervisor's accusations are false.

In an interview with Austonia, Martínez detailed the incident from his perspective and said that he believes this is a pattern of behavior from the university and that he has reason to believe it may be a problem in other departments as well.

"I know employees who mute their problems because they fear retaliation," Martínez said. "The American workplace culture at UT runs on compliments and self-praise, so if one raises frank critiques then some persons quickly become uncomfortable. One faculty colleague had advised me to accept that departments are 'consultative dictatorships,' as I note in the lawsuit."

In his report, Martínez said that none of the Hispanic or Black professors had been appointed to leadership positions that involved pay raises and course releases in 15 consecutive years. Furthermore, it found that few Hispanic professors were appointed to chairs of committees and many, including him, were underpaid.

The university's Hispanic Equity Report of 2019 showed that Hispanic full professors, as opposed to professors of relatively lower ranks, were paid 12% less than their non-Hispanic white counterparts, on average, even though they tended to exceed them in productivity.

"Worse, I know of multiple Hispanic faculty who privately complain of disturbing incidents of apparent disparate treatment, but most do not publicly complain because of fear of retaliation from Department Chairs and Deans," Martínez said.

Martínez was reported to the OIE by his supervisor under accusations of creating a toxic work environment, anti-Semitic statements, inappropriate conduct with graduate students, denigrating women colleagues and sexual misconduct.

Martínez was not aware that he had been accused of sexual misconduct or making anti-Semitic statements until after he had undergone two in-person interviews with OIE and waited 16 months for results. OIE found all of the supervisor's accusations to be unsubstantiated.

"I was not fully informed and therefore lost my right to fully defend myself against offensively false allegations," Martínez said. "Instead, I only found that out when OIE sent me their final Report of Investigation."

After the investigation, Martínez filed a formal complaint at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Texas Workforce Commission in September 2019. Notably, Martínez informed the OIE of retaliation five separate times and informed the senior vice provosts for faculty affairs and for diversity.

In response to the incident, UT issued this statement:

"The university continues its work to review and address concerns related to faculty compensation. Professor Martinez is a member of the university's Equity Review Process Consultative Committee where he is in a position to participate in the university-wide initiative to review salary differences, understand bases for differences, and offer feedback. We look forward to continuing this important work. The university will address Martinez's allegations about his individual situation in our response to his EEOC charge and our filings in the lawsuit."


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