A professor is suing the college for which he works, alleging that discrimination is the reason he is paid less than other faculty with his qualifications.
That sounds like a familiar scenario, but in this case, there’s a twist.
The school being sued is Tuskegee University in Alabama, one of America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The professor suing the college is white.
Marshall Burns, a professor of physics, alleges that even though he is a full professor, he has been paid at the rate of an associate professor, the Montgomery Advertiser reported.
The lawsuit he has filed cites age discrimination and racial discrimination as the basis for the suit.
The suit said African and Asian teachers are paid more than Burns, The Associated Press reported.
The suit said that Burns, a white, “native-born American” helped Tuskegee obtain funding from conservative state lawmakers.
Tuskegee University Professor Marshall Burns is suing the HBCU for age, race discrimination. https://t.co/cu42dX5Osw
— Public Opinion (@PONews) July 24, 2019
The college is not discussing the matter, but Burns and his lawyer, Julian McPhillips, spoke to the media on Tuesday about the suit, which McPhillips said was filed as a last resort when talks with the school failed to produce a result.
“I’m not a greedy person,” Burns said, according to the Montgomery Advertiser. “I applaud people who are successful. They’ve earned it. I think I’ve earned it, but I haven’t received it. I have tried and tried and tried everything I know.”
Burns started at Tuskegee in 1976 as an assistant professor and was promoted to full professor in 1980.
He said his current pay of $60,500 is at the level of associate professors, while newer full professors are paid between $78,000 to $90,000.
Burns, who said he has asked for a raise 12 times, estimates that being underpaid has cost him about $400,000
“That’s an enormous amount of money to me,” he said. “It could have made a world of difference to me raising a family of four kids.”
Despite that, he said he has not wanted to leave the college.
“I’ve had what I consider to be exceptional students,” Burns said. “At Tuskegee, I’ve had classes with students who are go-getters and very smart. That’s what gives me enthusiasm to teach.”
He said that despite the lawsuit, he will be teaching when classes resume this fall.
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