Five Cornell Women File Discrimination Suit

ITHACA, N.Y.--Five female former Cornell University professors who were denied tenure or were not reappointed have filed a class action suit charging Cornell with sex discrimination in hiring and promotion in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The five women are members of an original group of 11--known as the Cornell 11--who filed sex discrimination complaints two years ago with the state human rights commission.

J. Anthony Gaenslen, an attorney who is representing the five women, said they were chosen from the larger group because of the structure of the law, which applies only to academic departments and which requires charges to be filed within 240 days of the alleged violation.

The suit criticizes Cornell for failing to have objective standards for promotion, hiring and recruitment, and calls on the university to raise women's salaries to levels equal to those of men in similar positions. The suit also asks the university to begin new affirmative action programs and to include women on committees that make hiring and promotion decisions.

The suit also asks the court to require Cornell to grant tenure and back pay to the five plaintiffs.


Gaenslen said more than 20 women have filed some sort of discrimination grievances against the university and added that some of them may be added to the class action suit.

Some seniors proposed donating money to the Cornell 11 Fund, which will be used to pay legal fees, instead of contributing to a senior class gift.

Steven Melchisky, a senior, said he would propose the idea to the senior class executive committee because, "I'd like to see institutional changes made for the benefit of future Cornellians."

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