SAN DIEGO – Chapman University, a private university in Orange, Calif., violated federal law when it denied tenure to and then discharged a black professor due to her race, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
The university hired the professor in 2001 as an assistant professor of marketing for the George L. Argyros School of Business & Economics (ASBE). Despite strong recommendations in her favor by professional peers both inside and outside of Chapman University, a review committee denied the professor’s application for tenure and promotion to the position of associate professor in October 2006. Chapman’s board of trustees ultimately denied her tenure appeal and effectively discharged her in June 2008. The EEOC contends that non-black professors were promoted despite the alleged victim’s superior record in teaching, scholarship and/or service to the university and her profession. At the time of her application for tenure, the alleged victim was the sole black faculty member in a department of approximately 30.
The EEOC filed its suit against Chapman University in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Southern Division (EEOC v. Chapman University and the Board of Trustees of Chapman University, Case No. SACV10-1419-CJC ( RNBx)), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement. According to the EEOC, the alleged acts of discrimination violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages, back pay and front pay on behalf of the alleged victim, along with injunctive relief intended to prevent future race discrimination at the university.
“Although this country has made great strides in addressing race discrimination, racial barriers still persist,” said Anna Y. Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office. “Denying upward mobility to qualified minorities while promoting less qualified non-minorities exacerbates the glass ceiling that continues to ail the American workplace.”
Marla Stern, local director of the EEOC’s San Diego Local Office, said, “Situations like this, with apparent favoritism for less qualified non-blacks over well-qualified African-Americans, are not only unfair to the direct victims, they are counter-productive to the organization and help perpetuate injustice in our country. The EEOC will continue to fight such damaging discrimination.”
Founded in 1861, Chapman University is a private, non-profit university with programs in seven schools and colleges, and an enrollment of approximately 6,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov