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Female Coach sues Edinboro University on Grounds of Unequal Pay (USA)

An Edinboro University of Pennsylvania coach is suing the university and the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education claiming gender-based pay disparity and retaliation by university officials after she challenged differences in pay.

Women’s volleyball coach Melissa Soboleski claims in the lawsuit filed Jan. 25 in U.S. District Court in Erie that at the beginning of 2016 she earned 47 percent less than a male counterpart in another “Tier 1” sport. Soboleski was paid $64,344 annually. Three other Tier I head coaches, all male, earned as much as $120,872.

Tier 1 sports at Edinboro are women’s volleyball, wrestling, men’s basketball and women’s basketball.

The salary of the lowest-paid male Tier 1 coach was $74,959 in 2016, although he was hired with no head coaching experience, according to the lawsuit.

Soboleski had been a head coach for more than a decade when she was hired by Edinboro in February 2005. She led Gannon University and Mercyhurst University teams to a number of conference and divisional playoffs and a Lady Lakers’ Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference South Division championship.

In Soboleski’s 12 seasons at Edinboro, the Lady Scots have earned NCAA Division II Atlantic Region playoff berths eight times and went 256-141, for the most wins for any volleyball coach in Edinboro University history.

“Unfortunately, despite her impressive experience, unwavering dedication and many outstanding professional achievements, coach Soboleski is paid substantially less than her similarly situated male counterparts for equal work,” Soboleski’s lawyers, Elizabeth Deemer, Sunshine Fellows and Chloe Zidian, of Pittsburgh, said in a prepared statement.

Edinboro University spokeswoman Angela Burrows declined to comment on the lawsuit Thursday.

“We really aren’t at liberty to discuss pending lawsuits or personnel matters,” Burrows said.

The university will have the opportunity to respond to the lawsuit in court.

According to Soboleski’s lawsuit, she first questioned the pay disparity in January 2015 during an annual job evaluation by university Athletic Director Bruce Baumgartner, also the university’s deputy Title IX coordinator for gender equity in athletics.

Soboleski claims in the lawsuit that Baumgartner ignored her request to review the situation for more than a year. In March 2016, Baumgartner convened and chaired a committee to examine pay disparity.



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