Thursday, November 6, 2008

UAB Steps in More HR Doo-Doo

The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), my former employer, can't seem to stay out of trouble related to human resources.

Regular readers know about my firing from UAB and some of the university's machinations in trying to cover up a clearly wrongful termination. Heck, UAB's own grievance committee determined it was wrongful.

Now we learn that UAB has stepped in more HR doo-doo. This time it involves Dr. Rosalia Scripa, a professor in the School of Engineering and a former assistant provost at the university.

Scripa has filed a lawsuit claiming she was paid less than male employees with similar duties and demoted after complaining that female faculty were being discriminated against.

Like me, Scripa is no Johnny-Come-Lately to UAB. She came to the university in 1976 as its first female faculty member in the School of Engineering.

In 2000, Scripa was named associate provost and eventually became principal investigator on a National Science Foundation grant on the advancement of women in math and sciences.

The grant application asked for data on faculty salaries, and while researching this topic, Scripa saw that female professors in the schools of business and social and behavioral sciences were being paid less than their male counterparts.

Scripa complained to UAB Provost Eli Capilouto about the pay discrepancy. But she says Capilouto and the head of human resources (who is unnamed in the article) asked her to use pairs of male and female faculty members with similar backgrounds "to see if they would show the salary data in a more favorable light."

Soon afterward, the lawsuit states, Capilouto called a meeting with Scripa and told her she was "not well suited" for her job as associate provost and was being removed. She was asked to sign a letter stating she was stepping down for family and personal reasons.

The Scripa lawsuit is just the latest in a rather lengthy list of troubling HR-related cases at UAB. We've already noted an ongoing case involving discrimination against medical trainees from India. I'm also aware of a School of Business case that involved allegations of unequal pay based on gender and outrageous actions with racial overtones.

We will be providing details on all of these cases--and any others that emerge. But already, we see disturbing patterns:

* Discrimination based on gender, age, race, national origin, and religious practices;

* Unethical, or even fraudulent, behavior regarding money--particularly research funds or major gifts;

* False statements made to or about employees--or pressuring employees to engage in making false statements;

* A willingness to repeatedly violate federal law, even though the university receives more than $400 million a year in federal funds.

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