United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION (GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION
E. Hudson United States District Judge.
Zoe Spencer ("Plaintiff') brings suit against her
employer, Virginia State University ("VSU"), along
with various members of the University's administration
and Board of Visitors (collectively "Defendants"),
alleging wage discrimination and retaliation under the Equal
Pay Act of 1963 ("EPA") and Title VII of the Civil
Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII").
matter comes before the Court on Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).
(ECF No. 28.) Defendants seek dismissal of Plaintiffs wage
discrimination and retaliation claims, arguing that Plaintiff
has failed to plead a plausible claim under either the EPA or
side has filed memoranda supporting their respective
positions. The Court will dispense with oral argument because
the facts and legal contentions are adequately presented in
the materials before the Court, and oral argument would not
aid in the decisional process. E.D. Va. Loc. Civ. R. 7(J).
reasons set forth below, the Court will grant Defendants'
Motion, and this case will be dismissed without prejudice.
required by Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, the Court assumes Plaintiffs well-pleaded
allegations to be true and views all facts in the light most
favorable to her. T.G. Slater & Son v. Donald P.
& Patricia A. Brennan LLC, 385 F.3d 836, 841 (4th
Cir. 2004) (citing Mylan Labs, Inc. v. Matkari, 7
F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993)). At this stage, the
Court's analysis is both informed and constrained by the
four corners of Plaintiff s Second Amended Complaint
("S.A.C."). Viewed through this lens, the facts are
has been employed with VSU since August 2008. (S.A.C. ¶
42, ECF No. 19.) VSU initially hired Plaintiff as an
Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology, Social
Work, and Criminal Justice. (Id.) In 2010,
Defendants promoted Plaintiff to Associate Professor, a
position she currently holds. (Id.)
career at VSU has been noteworthy, and she has received
numerous awards and certificates for her service to the VSU
community and the community at large. (Id. ¶
44.) As an Associate Professor, Plaintiff is responsible for
teaching four classes each semester. (Id. ¶
46.) Plaintiffs classes are consistently filled to capacity,
and her evaluations from both students and faculty exceed the
95th percentile. (Id.) From 2011 until 2013,
Plaintiffs salary was $68, 500.00 per academic year.
(Id. ¶ 47.) Plaintiff currently receives $70,
040.00 per academic year. (Id.)
avers that VSU is a teaching university, not a research
institution. (Id. ¶ 48.) Plaintiff also
contends that the University's Employee Work Profiles
("EWPs") do not distinguish between the
responsibilities and performance obligations of faculty
members according to their disciplines. (Id.)
contends that according to the VSU Faculty Handbook, VSU
employees are divided into Classified Personnel and General
Faculty. (Id. ¶ 36.) Faculty salaries are based
on rank and experience, rather than department.
(Id.) Per the Handbook, "there is no difference
or distinction in faculty responsibilities or job
descriptions between departments or disciplines."
(Id. ¶ 38.)
S.A.C. draws comparisons between several VSU faculty members
with different compensation rates than Plaintiff.
Specifically, Plaintiff identifies six male professors at VSU
who earn significantly higher salaries than she does despite
equal or less experience and equal or fewer qualifications:
1. Cortez Dial is or was an Associate Professor in the Mass.
Communications Department despite the fact that when he was
hired he did not possess a terminal degree in the field and
had no experience teaching the subject. (Id. ¶
49a.) In Spring 2015, Professor Dial taught only two courses,
each of which had less than 20% enrollment. (Id.) In
2014, Professor Dial earned $35, 406.00 more than Plaintiff.
2. Michael Shackleford was an Associate Professor in the
Doctoral Studies Department, despite the fact that when he
was hired he had no experience teaching the subject or
conducting research. (Id. ¶ 49b.) In Spring
2015, Professor Shackleford taught two courses with
enrollment maximums of 3 and 8 students respectively.
(Id.) In 2014, Professor Shackleford earned $49,
698.00 more than Plaintiff. (Id.)
3. Andrew Feldstein is an Associate Professor in the
Management and Marketing Department. (Id. ¶
49c.) In Spring 2015, he was signed up to teach only one
class. (Id.) In 2014, Professor Feldstein earned
$42, 827.00 more than Plaintiff. (Id.)
4. Byron Greenberg was an Associate Professor in the
Psychology Department. (Id. ¶ 49d.) In 2014,
Professor Greenberg earned $6, 421.00 more than Plaintiff.
5. David Coss is an Assistant Professor in the Accounting and
Finance Department. (Id. ¶ 50a.) Plaintiff
avers that, prior to his employment at VSU, Professor Coss
did not have any significant contributions or achievements in
his field outside of academia. (Id.) In Spring 2015,
Professor Coss was signed up to teach two courses, each with
less than 40% enrollment. (Id.) In 2014, Professor
Coss earned $38, 110.00 more than Plaintiff. (Id.)
6. Karl Menk was an Associate Professor at VSU. (Id.
¶ 50b.) In 2012, Professor Menk earned $36, 500.00 more
than Plaintiff. (Id.)
2012, Plaintiff made attempts to address gender equity at
VSU. (Id. ¶ 51.) Plaintiff served as the chair
of a six-member organization entitled "The Gender Equity
Task Force, " a group designed to investigate wage
disparity at VSU. (Id.) The Task Force presented its
findings to the Administrative Cabinet at VSU and warned the
Administration about the University's potential liability
under the EPA and ...