U’s Title VII interpretation misses law’s intention

Under Title VII Sec. 2000e-2 [703] it is unlawful for an employer to “discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment based on individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”

This law was originally aimed at unequal salaries and treatment of women and minorities, but its protections must extend to males when appropriate. If the University has its way in the Supreme Court, however, males will be omitted from Title VII protections, creating a mirror-image problem.

The case in question involves Carlson School of Management professor Ian Maitland, who alleges the 3 percent pay increases of female academic faculty members resulting from the Rajender II consent decree violate his rights as a male. Maitland claims they took no account of performance but granted raises based solely on gender.

In defense, University General Counsel Mark Rotenberg argues that Title VII does not apply to men because there is not enough factual basis to enact sex discrimination protections for men. The University’s argument would make it impossible for men to bring sex discrimination suits against the University under Title VII. However, even if the law was written in a time when females bore the brunt of discrimination, lawmakers strove to create equality between the sexes – not to give females an unfair advantage. If a male can prove that raises are based on nothing more than gender, his rights are violated just the same as the females who file pay-disparity cases against the University.

Title VII states that the University cannot “unnecessarily trammel rights of male faculty,” and if sex-based pay raises go beyond creating equality and are unmerited, the rights of men are certainly trammeled.

It would be against the law’s intent to expand from protecting women to inflicting pay disparity on men. The problem of gender equity is not solved in this way, but rather is aggravated.

If the University wishes to remain an institution in accordance with constitutionally guaranteed sex equity, it should drop this line of defense immediately. Attempting to omit a particular group from constitutional protections based on sex, race or any other factor is a travesty. Although this case has had little publicity, the University community would be outraged if Rotenberg was attempting to similarly limit women’s constitutional protections. Men deserve equal protection even if historically they have not been violated. The intent of male inclusion is clear in Title VII, and the University and Rotenberg should cease their efforts to argue such a case before the Supreme Court.