For more information please call  800.727.2766


University of Texas Professor Awarded $3 Million for Sex Discrimination

In 2019, Evdokia Nikolova sued the University of Texas-Austin (UT) for gender and pregnancy discrimination in violation of Title VII. An assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, Nikolova came to UT with two years of teaching experience at a prior university. She says the former chair of her UT department told her those prior years would count toward her tenure review, something that is contrary to UT’s written policy. During her time at UT, Nikolova took a “probationary extension” and “modified instructional duty” for her pregnancy and the subsequent birth of her son. She asserted UT intended for those steps to extend her tenure review period. UT considered her for tenure after she had been at the university for 4.5 years, about half a year before it considers tenure for most professors. She received positive reviews and strong support. The university denied her tenure, asserting she had applied two years early.

In the lawsuit, Nikolova’s attorneys asserted UT treated her differently than tenured candidates who had not been pregnant and taken a probationary extension leave for pregnancy. She claims the university awarded tenure to male professors in the department with less time working as assistant professors and applied more lenient standards. In her complaint, she alleges that of the 53 tenured faculty in her department, only four were women. Since that time, nine men have been up for tenure and two women. All of the men received tenure but none of the women did.

The jury found that UT engaged in unlawful discrimination and awarded her $1 million in damages for past pain and suffering, $2 million in future pain and suffering, and $50,000 in back pay and benefits. The verdict exceeds the $300,000 cap under Title VII. She remains an assistant professor at UT. In its response to the verdict, UT said it stands by its assertions that it had concerns about Nikolova’s qualifications for tenure at the point she applied. It also said it will continue to review its processes and will comply with the verdict.