After more than five hours of deliberation, a jury found that Virginia Tech did not discriminate against two of its female employees who were paid less than their male counterparts.
But this wasn’t the first time the case went to trial. In 2008, Shana Maron and Greta Hanes, previous Tech employees, sued the university claiming it violated the Equal Pay Act.
In April 2011, a jury voted in favor of Maron and Hanes, and the Roanoke’s U.S. District Court awarded them $25,000 and $15,000 in back pay, respectively.
Maron was also awarded $61,000, roughly one year's pay, because she proved that Tech retaliated against her when she complained about a pay disparity.
However, in July 2011, U.S. District Judge James Turk granted Tech a post judgment movement and determined that the university did pay the woman based on experience, rather than gender.
Maron and Hanes appealed the court’s decision, bringing them to a retrial Tuesday, which ended this morning in Tech’s favor. However, the decision didn’t come easy, as the jury was deadlocked at one point.
Nicholas Woodfield, the women’s attorney, said the jury couldn’t come to a decision and was given an “allen charge,” which is a set of instructions telling its members to continue deliberation to reach an agreement.
Although Woodfield is disappointed in the verdict, he is not ready to end the fight.
“I don’t think my clients deserve to lose,” he said.
Woodfield, Maron and Hanes are hoping that a third time’s the charm. They plan to appeal to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reinstate the first verdict.
“We frankly don’t think we are going to have much of a problem there,” Woodfield said.
Since the case’s beginning, the university has stood by its practice of using gender-neutral factors to determine salaries. And it continues to do so.
“We always assumed that the facts of the case would determine the case in favor of the university,” said Larry Hincker, university spokesman. “Treating employees equitably and fairly undergird the university’s human resource policies.”
According to case files, Maron was hired as an assistant director of university development in 2006. She later worked in the same position for development in engineering. Her annual salary was $49,000.
Maron met with Robert Bailey, the senior director of regional gifts for university development, in April 2007 regarding a regional director position.
The files state that Maron told Bailey she expected an annual salary of $68,500 in the new position because Field Glover, the male who last occupied the position, started at that amount. Bailey offered Maron $48,000 as compensation for the position.
In the following months, Hanes joined Maron’s suit. Hanes was a regional director for major gifts from October 2006 until April 2008, and her annual salary was $53,500.
The plaintiff’s male comparators, Justin Mosby, Benjamin Grove, James Grove and Christopher Lawson, were paid $55,000, $63,000 and $67,000 annual salaries upon hire, respectively.