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Why are less experienced teachers getting bigger raises?


Q: The School Board is raising teacher salaries but younger, less experienced teachers are getting bigger raises than older teachers with years of experience. Isn't this discrimination?

A: The United States Supreme Court considered similar facts in the March 30, 2005 decision Smith v. City of Jackson. Older officers sued for age discrimination after Jackson gave police officers with less than five years experience bigger raises than it paid more experienced police officers.  The Supreme Court Justices disagreed on legal theories and statutory interpretation (whether age discrimination can be proved by showing a neutral employment practice affects older workers differently or "disparate impact"), but none found illegal discrimination.
 
The Jackson pay plan was less generous to older police officers than to younger ones.   However, raises were based on rank and years of experience, not age.   Age and years of experience are strongly related - but different.  Officers over age forty could receive the larger raise if they had less than five years of police experience; officers under age forty with more than five years experience received smaller raises.  Further, basing raises on seniority and rank reflected market competition, not age.   The City was trying to compete with surrounding communities to recruit and retain new police officers.

To challenge the pay raises in your school division you would have to identify a specific test, requirement or practice based on age or adversely affecting older officers.  The generality that more young teachers will get more money is not enough.

VEA believes teaching experience is important for students and teachers should be paid for their valuable experience.  Talk to your Local President and UniServ Director, join your local association compensation committee, and help teach the school board a better way to compensate all teachers for their work and experience.

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