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Melissa Rico Comments on Pay Equity for a University Professor in the Globe and Mail

June 14, 2021

CW Lawyers in the news: Melissa Rico

Carbert Waite LLP Partner Melissa Rico was recently asked to comment in The Globe and Mail for their Career Advice Column.

The question asked was whether it was legal for a University to pay a professor less than her peers, noting that she was female and a visible minority, and in her view, she considerably outperformed her peer group. 

I am a professor at a major Canadian university. I’m also a woman and a visible minority. I have many awards and I am widely published. However, I am the lowest-paid professor in my faculty. White, male associate and even assistant professors are paid more than me – up to 30 percent more. Their output is a fraction of my output. When I try to raise the subject, I am told the university is only obliged to pay me the minimum salary. Is this legal?

Ms. Rico’s answer begins as follows:

Pay equity is defined as equal pay for work of equal value. The issues you are facing of a racial and gender pay gap have been gaining attention worldwide, with various initiatives aimed at finding solutions to bridge the divide. In your situation, there are a number of options to consider.

Ms. Rico goes on to note that options for addressing this claim include provincial pay equity legislation (in many provinces), collective bargaining grievances for unionized workers, and provincial human rights legislation complaints. The full response and the rest of the article are behind a paywall, but if you are a subscriber of the Globe and Mail, you can read it here.