Faculty Salary Equity Review Process

Petition and review process for faculty who believe their salaries are too low by reason of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

One requirement stemming from the “Conciliation Agreement” with the Department of Labor is the establishment of a campus-wide salary review system for members of the faculty. Specifically, the language of this particular “Conciliation Action” is as follows:

  • UIUC agrees to institute a campus-wide salary review system that includes… a system of salary reviews available to individuals who petition for formal reconsideration of salary, particularly as judged against the salaries of mutually acceptable counterparts. Reviews are conducted by department/unit executive officers following campus guidelines and in consultation with a standing or ad hoc committee and with due regard for providing petitioners with ample opportunity to be heard on the issues of selection of proper counterparts and the bases for salary allocations. Such reviews are subject to the scrutiny and recommendation of officers at the next higher level of administration.
  • The primary consideration in salary determination at UIUC is merit. In the case of faculty, the University Statutes require that special consideration be given to (1) teaching ability and performance, (2) research ability and achievement, and (3) accomplishments in the areas of public service and special assignments. In the case of academic professional employees assignments vary considerably, but salary increase policy clearly relates salary increments to the extent to which performance matches job specifications. The objective of salary policies at UIUC and the reviews described… above is that of assuring a substantial relationship between performance and salary for both classes of employees.”

The purpose of this communication is to describe a new salary review system for faculty which is to be implemented campus-wide no later than June 1, 1979. The system as described herein is available to any faculty member who believes his or her salary too low because of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

It is important that we do more than simply react to charges of discrimination from faculty members and others. Our obligation is to assure ourselves and others of salary equity without waiting for charges to be filed. We must be prepared to analyze salary differences by race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

Section I. The Equity Review Process

  1. The Petition, the Determination of Counterparts, and the Identification of a Potential Inequity

    The reviews undertaken upon receipt of petition for review involve comparison of the petitioner’s record with the records of appropriate counterparts (e.g., a member of a racial minority group would be compared with counterparts of a different race; a female with counterparts who are male, etc.).

    A part of the “Conciliation Agreement” stipulates that each department make available for inspection by any faculty member (a) information showing current individual faculty salaries by year of service and rank, and (b) a file of annually updated curriculum vitae on all faculty. The establishment of these files is intended to allow a faculty member to examine the accomplishments and salaries of persons considered to be peers and on that basis to make a personal decision as to whether his or her salary is fair or appears inappropriately low. On the basis of that decision a member of a faculty may then, if he or she chooses, file a petition with the executive officer of the department or unit. The petition must be in the form of a letter and must:

    • Describe the peers (counterparts) with whom comparison of salary, rank, and accomplishment was made and with whom comparisons should be made, in the judgment of the petitioner.
    • State the size, in dollars, of the perceived salary inequity (the difference between the salary of the petitioner and the average of the salaries of the counterparts named). All salaries should be stated in nine-month equivalents (i.e., if a person is on an annual Y contract, the annual salary should be multiplied by 9/11), and to be acceptable for review the petition must describe a salary discrepancy that exceeds 7 per cent of the salary of the petitioner.
    • After receipt of the petition, the departmental/unit executive officer meets with the petitioner to discuss the petition. A critical consideration at that meeting is whether the petitioner has named an appropriate set of counterparts (see Section II). If the counterparts are thought by the executive officer to be appropriate for the petitioner and a discrepancy exists (which is larger than 7 per cent of the salary of the petitioner) between the salary of the petitioner and the average of the appropriate counterparts, then further review is warranted (see Section I, B).
    • If the question of whether the petitioner has named appropriate counterparts is not resolved during the meeting of the executive officer and the petitioner, the officer will consult with a standing or ad hoc committee on the issue of whether the counterparts would be appropriate (see Section II). The petitioner has the right to be heard by this committee. The outcome of this consultation will be the identification by the executive officer of an appropriate set of counterparts. If a discrepancy in salary exists between that of the petitioner and the counterparts that is larger than 7 per cent, further review is warranted (see Section I, B).
  2. The Review

    When a set of counterparts has been identified and it appears that a salary inequity might exist, the petition is referred to a standing committee or an ad hoc committee appointed by the executive officer for the purpose of advising the executive officer whether or not in their judgment a salary inequity does exist. This committee may be different from that which might have been consulted concerning an appropriate set of counterparts. It may need to meet with the executive officer to collect information, but should operate independently otherwise.

    The departmental executive officers should consult with a committee that is credible to all parties involved. This may mean that an ad hoc committee will need to be used if a standing committee, which otherwise would be consulted, had been importantly involved in the previous determination of the petitioner’s salary.

    If an ad hoc committee is appointed for the purpose, effort should be made to select persons who were not involved in previous salary determinations. It is, of course, especially important to select persons without known biases toward classes protected against discrimination by law. The review committee should be composed of three to five persons; in the case of small units an effort should be made to select persons from closely allied disciplines if a committee cannot be formed from within the unit.3 Persons who are likely to be counterparts for the petitioner should not be appointed to the review committee.

    The review should focus upon those factors that are important determiners of salary in the unit of the petitioner. Some general comments on such factors may be found in Section III, but it is expected that the weighting of various factors will vary from unit to unit.

    When the committee has completed its review, its recommendations are communicated in writing to the executive officer, who is charged with making a decision.

    In the decision whether salaries are or are not equitable, due consideration should be given to overall plans or special circumstances that may be in effect with respect to salary structures within the department. In such cases there may be temporary salary discrepancies that are to be remedied within a reasonable time, for example two years, and the decision should refrain from interfering with such definite plans for remedy.

    The decision of the unit’s executive officer is communicated in writing to the petitioner and for purposes of review to the administrator to whom the unit executive officer reports (hereafter referred to as “the reviewer”). This review considers the merits of the petition, in view of all materials examined at the departmental level. The review also assesses whether fair and proper procedures were followed and whether the decision at the departmental level was capricious, arbitrary, or inequitable. The review finding, sent as a letter to the unit executive officer with a copy to the petitioner, consists of either confirming or not confirming the decision of the executive officer. A recommendation of the unit executive that is not confirmed by the reviewer requires the officer to reconsider his or her recommendation. If the officer and the reviewer continue to disagree, the reviewer’s decision shall be final. The petitioner and the committee, of course, have the right to discuss the reviewer’s decision with him or her, but no higher administrative appeal will occur.

    When a salary inequity is judged to exist, the unit executive officer makes an equity increase recommendation through administrative channels. Upon receiving final approval, the adjustment will be made in the next pay period. Retroactive salary increases will not be allowed.

    If the petitioner is not satisfied with the outcome of the Salary Equity Review, he or she may file a grievance on the basis of discrimination under the Urbana-Champaign Campus Administrative Procedures for Complaints of Discrimination Faculty Academic/Professional Staff. It is not necessary to use the salary equity procedure before filing a grievance.

Section II. Determination of Counterparts

  • For purposes of salary review, there are a number of bases on which one may judge whether any two persons are, or are not, counterparts. These include (i) nature of duties to be performed (including administrative responsibilities), (ii) rank, (iii) seniority at UIUC, and (iv) professional experience elsewhere. (In addition to quality of performance, market factors will be taken into account by the review committee as it seeks to make a determination concerning the existence and size of an inequality. Comments relating to such considerations are mentioned later in this document.)
  • In many instances, it will not be possible to identify a set of counterparts for a given petitioner so that every counterpart is the equal of the petitioner in terms of each and every basis; but, counterparts can be ranked. That is, it may be determined that counterpart Y ranks higher than the petitioner overall or on the average, while counterpart X ranks lower. Such rankings will reflect the relative weighting assigned to the several bases within the discipline of the petitioner.
  • Because market factors can vary to a considerable degree from discipline to discipline, it is advisable to look for counterparts for a petitioner only within the discipline of the petitioner. In the case of small departments, however, counterparts may need to be sought outside the petitioner’s department, but in closely related disciplines.
  • This review system is a part of the University procedure for relieving salary inequity among employees of different race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; therefore, counterparts must be chosen from another segment of one of the designated classes (e.g., a member of a racial minority group is compared with counterparts of a different race; a female with counterparts that are male, etc.).

Section III. Major Factors Determininq Salary at UIUC

Examination of faculty salaries, overall on campus, reveals a substantial relationship between measures of seniority – such as rank, years since highest degree, years at UIUC, etc. – and annual salary. Yet within any set of faculty of roughly the same seniority there can be a large difference in salary. The difference can be categorized in terms of the effects of merit and discipline/market factors.

  1. Merit Factors

    Merit factors consist of the indications of relative merit of performance in the areas of teaching, research and scholarship (or artistic production), and service that have been emphasized traditionally at UIUC when salary decisions are made. The belief is strongly held on campus that objective indicators of merit in the areas of performance must be evident in order to recommend promotion or salary increases above a minimum. It is upon that sort of care in personnel decisions that the relative merit of the campus effort as a whole ultimately rests. The specification of indicators in the three areas of performance and the relative weighting of them varies from discipline to discipline on campus because of the great diversity of disciplines represented.

  2. Discipline/Market Factors

    In addition to merit and seniority factors, several othe determinants of individual salaries, and of overall salaries in different disciplines, have an influence at UIUC.

    • Disciplinary Factors. These include:
      • Disciplines which involve excellent employment opportunities in industry or government, in addition to academic employment. Faculty salaries in those disciplines on campus tend to be higher.
      • Faculty in some disciplines, considered overall, will be in higher demand within academic institutions than will those in other disciplines. Disciplines in which many desirable positions are available in prestigious academic institutions, then, can also be expected to have higher salaries overall.
      • Disciplinary Developmental Pattern. In some fields, much creative work tends to be accomplished early in a person’s career. In those disciplines young faculty tend to earn more than young faculty do in other fields, in which creative work tends to occur later in life.
      • Recruitment Patterns. Some disciplines require persons to have had postdoctoral study or special types of experience in public agencies or industry. In those instances, starting salaries tend to be higher, and those somewhat higher salaries may be maintained relative to salaries in other disciplines.
    • Market Factors Affecting Individuals
      • As in the case of disciplinary factors, market factors affecting individuals have to do both with merit and supply/demand factors. More meritorious faculty in all disciplines are more “visible” off campus and do, or have the opportunity to, go elsewhere. Therefore, larger salaries may be required to attract these individuals to UIUC and to keep them here.

All such factors, i.e., merit factors, disciplinary factors, and market factors affecting individuals, are legitimate considerations in the determination of whether a specific salary is appropriate in any particular case. Thus, all should be considered when the salaries of a petitioner and his or her counterparts are compared, and in some cases it may be useful to analyze the impact of these factors on salaries over several years.