A white New Jersey college professor has sued his employer for racial discrimination after learning that two black co-workers with credentials allegedly inferior to his own were making at least 49% more money than him.
William Lavell’s lawsuit against Camden County College was filed on Friday in US District Court in Camden, New Jersey. The 66-year-old chemistry professor alleged that after obtaining payroll data under the state’s open records law, he found “stark racial disparities” between his pay and the salaries of two black engineering professors.
The lawsuit said Lavell suffered “severe emotional distress, embarrassment, humiliation and loss of self-esteem” as a result of the disparities. He filed a racial discrimination complaint with Camden County College officials, but his proposal to bring his salary in line with those of his non-white peers was rejected. College officials also declined to investigate Lavell’s complaint, according to the lawsuit.
Lavell’s 2020 salary was $91,923, while the two black professors cited as examples in the lawsuit made $137,157 and $142,600, respectively. The three long-time professors have similar qualifications and tenure, but the lawsuit said Lavell holds three professional degrees in his area of certification, while the two black professors hold two and one, respectively.
Camden County College hired Lavell in 1995. He has been a department chairman and was named dean of the division of math, science and health careers. Students gave him a 4.8 rating out of 5 on ratemyprofessors.com. All 42 students who rated him said they would choose to take a course with him again. Multiple students called him “the best professor I have ever had.”
The lawsuit didn’t cite any salaries of other chemistry professors. Lavell lists three degrees on his LinkedIn profile, including a PhD in organic chemistry from Princeton University. He was an assistant professor at the US Naval Academy before joining Camden County College.
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