The News Service
Lamphere class’s appeal dismissed
‘Substantial compliance’ goal remains 67 tenured women faculty in 1991
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit dismissed an appeal by women faculty at Brown, allowing a previous decision by Senior Judge Raymond J. Pettine to stand. Pettine had ruled that while 74 tenured women was the goal for “full representativeness,” a total of 67 tenured women would demonstrate “substantial compliance” and allow for possible termination of the consent decree.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — On Tuesday, Feb. 20, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit dismissed an appeal by a group of women faculty at Brown who took issue with a previous district court decision regarding the Lamphere Consent Decree. That previous decision, rendered May 12, 1989, by Senior Judge Raymond J. Pettine, set out a clear goal for tenured women professors which could result in termination of the Lamphere Consent Decree, under which the University has operated since 1977.
The consent decree grew out of a class-action suit between the University and women faculty who charged that they had been discriminated against on the basis of sex. The decree created a mechanism to monitor the University’s progress toward fully utilizing women on its faculty and to resolve any complaints of discrimination. It also established formal goals for hiring and tenuring women faculty members.
In 1988, the University asked Pettine to determine whether the Lamphere Consent Decree had dissolved on its own terms or, alternatively, to modify the decree and set June 30, 1990, as the termination date. In February 1989, Pettine decided not to terminate the decree, and the University asked for reconsideration. When he ruled on that reconsideration last May, Pettine let stand his decision not to terminate the decree, but he also established two goals.
First, Pettine indicated that 74 tenured women faculty in 1991 would reflect an ideal goal of “full representativeness” of women on the Brown faculty. Second, Pettine stated that because this ideal goal is a “moving target,” constantly updated and subject to differing availability pools in various disciplines, the court would view 90 percent of that goal – that is, 67 tenured women in 1991 – as evidence that the University is in “substantial compliance” with the terms of the consent decree. Substantial compliance would signal possible termination of the decree.
The appellants asserted that the May ruling contradicted itself by establishing 74 tenured women as the full representativeness goal and then allowing the decree to be terminated if the University tenures only 67 women faculty. In dismissing the appeal, the court did not address the merits of that issue because it was “not ripe for decision.” If the University were to have 67 tenured women on its faculty in 1991 and then petition to have the consent decree terminated, the court’s ruling on that petition could be appealed at that time.