Tennessee: No employee discrimination

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The University of Tennessee has rejected claims by three employees of its women's athletics department who say they were discriminated against because their salaries were lower than those of employees in the men's athletics department with comparable duties.

According to university documents obtained by The Associated Press, associate athletics director for women's sports medicine Jenny Moshak, assistant athletics director for women's strength and conditioning Heather Mason and associate director for women's strength and conditioning Collin Schlosser filed the complaint to the UT Office of Equity and Diversity in 2010.

In the complaint, Moshak, who works directly with women's basketball and oversees employees who work with other women's sports, compared her salary and duties to director of men's sports medicine Jason McVeigh. At that time, Moshak earned a base salary of $87,500 while McVeigh, who works directly with the football team and supervises employees who work with other men's sports, made a base salary of $89,048.

"Plaintiffs hold similar positions and perform comparable, and often more, job responsibilities, but receive lower compensation than employees within the men's athletic department based solely on their sex or affiliation with women's athletics," the complaint says.

After a yearlong investigation, the office determined Moshak, Mason and Schlosser's jobs were not similar enough to jobs within the men's department to find that they were denied equal pay for equal work and that their salaries was not determined by factors related to gender.

Multiple attempts to reach Moshak, Mason and Schlosser were unsuccessful. A spokesman for the athletics department declined comment on the case because it was a "personnel matter."

Knoxville radio station WNML first reported the discrimination claim, and the Knoxville News Sentinel first obtained a copy of the findings.

A report by the university said Moshak and McVeigh's positions differ for many reasons, including the number of athletes each supervises, the nature and number of injuries involved in their respective sports, their budget responsibilities and the amount of revenue and interest their sports generate.

"Football overwhelmingly is the top revenue-generating sport in athletics and the sport that generates the most fan interest," the report says. "If the university's football team is successful, then the entire athletics program reaps the monetary benefits. If the university's football team is unsuccessful even partly because football injuries are not being prevented, diagnosed, treated and rehabilitated successfully, then the entire athletics program suffers.

"With no disrespect being intended to Ms. Moshak, Mr. McVeigh's position is more important to athletics because of his football-related responsibilities."

The report named similar reasons that Mason and Schlosser's jobs differed from the jobs of their men's athletics department counterparts.

UT chancellor Jimmy Cheek approved the Office of Equity and Diversity's findings, and UT president Joe DiPietro upheld them in April after Moshak, Mason and Schlosser appealed to him for further review.

The complaints were filed at a time when the Tennessee men's and women's athletics departments operated separately. The two departments have since merged operations.

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