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Court Backs Pitt's Right to Reduce Professor's Pay

February 15, 2019

The University of Pittsburgh did not violate a professor's right to due process or deprive him of a property right when it reduced his base salary because of consistently poor performance reviews, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday in overturning a lower court's decision.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit rejected the lower court's view that Pitt's policy on faculty compensation entitled Jerome McKinney, a tenured professor at Pitt’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, to maintain his base salary. While the university's policy neither makes clear that a professor's salary can be reduced nor that it cannot be lowered, the appeals panel said, there isn't nearly enough justification for the court to “wade into the realm of ‘academic decisionmaking,’” for which it is “particularly ill-equipped.”


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