September 2001 article from the Varsity outlining a class-action lawsuit brought against the University. Four retired women faculty alleged the University paid women lower salaries than men.
The Pay Gap Exists
Since the 1950s, efforts had been made to lessen the wage gap between men and women faculty at the University. Early pay equity investigations done by the University tried to compare the duties of women and men faculty members. However, only women faculty were asked to write down everything they did.
Reports and research led by women revealed that many were making less than men. Despite some closing of the gender pay gap, a 2001 report found that the University paid women faculty on average 20% less than men.
By 1989, the provincial government passed the Pay Equity Act. This meant businesses had to pay women a comparable salary to men. The University began to change the salaries of women and men to make them more equal. In 1991, the review raised the salaries of many women!
“Why was the pay equity case so important? Because pay equity leads directly to pension, eligibility to all kinds of benefits.”
Click here to listen to Helen Breslauer talk about her involvement in the 2001 Franklin v. University pay equity case.
The first page of the Franklin v. University of Toronto class-action lawsuit. The case went to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in September 2001.
Hear Us Out
Ursula Franklin, Blanche Lemco van Ginkel, Cicely Watson, and Phyllis Grosskurth launched a class-action lawsuit with University of Toronto alumni, Mary Eberts, as their lawyer.
The Pay Equity act had raised the salaries of current University staff. Those who had retired however did not recieve this benefit. They had also been underpaid by the University for years.
Their longstanding careers and accomplishments went unappreciated. So they fought back.
The court heard the details of discrepancies in pay between women and men faculty in September 2001. In the end, the case was settled. The University retroactively raised the salaries of over sixty retired women, so their pensions were raised too.
"A whole group of women pensioners got together and the university refused to do anything about their pensions and they finally took them to court."
Click the play button to hear Lorna Marsden talk about the 2001 Franklin v. University pay equity case.
To learn more about the struggle for different kinds of equity at the University of Toronto click "Education Equity" in the bottom right or select a topic from the table of contents above.