Archive for Friday, October 22, 1999

EMPLOYEE WITH BIAS COMPLAINT WILLING TO NEGOTIATE

October 22, 1999

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Cristine Crenshaw's attorney sent a letter to the board's attorney Thursday saying Crenshaw was willing to submit the dispute over alleged gender bias to mediation.

Christine Crenshaw, who has filed a gender bias complaint against the Kansas Board of Regents, wants her old job title back. She also wants back pay and damages that could total as much as $500,000.

Crenshaw's lawyer, Kirk Lowry of Topeka, said Crenshaw wants her former title, salary equal to male counterparts at the regents' central office, back pay, compensatory damages and attorney fees from the board, if her complaint is to be resolved.

Crenshaw, who until a reorganization of the board office this summer was director of student financial aid, claims she was paid as much as $20,000 a year less than men in similar positions. She was employed by the board for eight years before being demoted to associate director.

Money is not Crenshaw's sole goal, Lowry said.

"Basically she wants (board officials) to sit down and acknowledge the problem," he said. "They have ignored her and demoted her position to match her salary."

In a series of memos written in 1998 and 1999 to the board and the executive director at the time, Crenshaw said women in the office were underpaid.

As part of a reorganization of the board office, Crenshaw was named associate director of fiscal affairs.

Thursday, Lowry sent a letter to the board's attorney saying Crenshaw was willing to submit the dispute to mediation.

The regents attorney, Mary Prewitt, said she couldn't comment on Crenshaw's complaint because the board considers it a confidential personnel matter.

Crenshaw has declined comment on her complaint and referred all questions to Lowry.

Lowry said the matter probably would be mediated by Midland Mediation, a service used by the Kansas Human Rights Commission, the agency handling Crenshaw's complaint.

He also said the board had asked to be excused from replying to Crenshaw's complaint. The board had until today to submit that reply.

The board wants to wait until a study of pay equity at the board office is completed by the state Department of Administration, Lowry said.

If Crenshaw's complaint with the Human Rights Commission is not resolved by Dec. 31, six months after the initial filing, she may ask the commission to allow her to sue the board.

As for the negotiations:

"Do I have great expectations? No," Lowry said. "It's really up to them."

Last week members of the Legislative Educational Planning Committee questioned regents officials about Crenshaw's change in title and placement at a lower tier of administration in the board office.

Executive Director Kim Wilcox, who was appointed in July, defended the move as a necessary reorganization. Board officials have promised a thorough review of salary equity.

Wilcox has said any past injustices that may have existed in the board office should be righted and prevented from happening again.

-- Erwin Seba's phone message number is 832-7145. His e-mail address is eseba@ljworld.com.

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