(WOMENSENEWS)–Columbia University is being charged with discriminatory hiring, promotions and pay patterns by someone who is in the position to know.
Zenobia White-Farrell, the former acting director of Columbia’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, filed a class action against the institution, alleging the institution discriminated against her because of her gender and race when it sought to fill the job permanently, according to the Columbia Daily Spectator. Her complaint also accuses the university of having a "pattern and practice of discrimination against African Americans in terms of compensation, hiring and promotion."
The student newspaper reported that White-Farrell was second-in-command at the equal opportunity office with an annual salary of $72,000 when the top spot became open. In April 2001, Columbia offered White-Farrell the job as head of the office with a salary of $80,000 and a lesser title than the previous chief held. After researching competitive salaries nationwide, White-Farrell requested the pay offer be increased to $100,000 and the title upgraded. Columbia adjusted its offer to $83,000 with the better title. White-Farrell declined. She resigned in June 2002.
A month later, Columbia hired a white woman for the post at a salary of $107,000.
Columbia issued a one-paragraph statement in response to the lawsuit, saying, "Columbia University is proud of the diversity and quality of its workforce. Columbia is committed to equal opportunity and has a strict and long-standing policy against discrimination of any kind."
White-Farrell told the Spectator that during her seven years at Columbia she had often felt cases were handled "inappropriately and unfairly." She added: "But to actually have it done to me–that’s what really ticked me off."