Chapman University Settles Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

Discrimination cases can be complicated and victims may not know what steps to take to protect their rights. A Chapman University professor has succeeded in recovering a settlement over allegations of racial discrimination. According to reports, the university agreed to pay $75,000 to the professor who claimed she was denied tenure because she was black. Though the university has denied any wrongdoing, the settlement also requires that it take steps to prevent future discrimination.
The EEOC announced in September of 2010 that it would pursue a case against Chapman on behalf of the professor. The settlement comes after two years of litigation. Our Orange County racial discrimination  attorneys are dedicated to protecting our clients. We understand the sensitive nature of these cases and will explore every available opportunity to protect the rights of workers throughout California. As leading employment law attorneys, we are also abreast of legal developments and issues that may be relevant to other individuals who have suffered from discrimination.

According to the complaint, the professor had been hired in 2001 and applied for a tenure and promotion from assistant professor to associated professor in 2006. Given her education and positive recommendations from peers, students and superiors, the tenure position was not out of the question. The professor’s tenure was denied and she was discharged from her assistant professor position in 2008. After investigating the allegations of racial discrimination, the EEOC announced that it would file a suit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The lawsuit alleged that the professor was unfairly and illegally denied tenure and promotion because of her race.

The lawsuit sought to collect back pay, punitive damages, and to seek an injunction to stop future racial discrimination. Despite the allegations that the tenure was denied because of race, the professor made no references to racially motivated comments or positions from the university. Evidence of discrimination was more heavily linked to the fact that she was the first black professor to seek tenure and the only black person in the 30-person department. According to the EEOC, there were less qualified non-black professors, who were promoted to tenure track positions.

The EEOC failed to reach a settlement prior to litigation and the federal district court sided with the university. According to a federal judge, Chapman did not prove her case for discrimination and the denial of her tenure was based on merit alone. The EEOC filed an appeal to the Ninth Circuit which was pending when the agency announced the settlement terms. The university decided to settle the case rather than to continue to invest resources into the defense of the claim.

Though the university has admitted no wrongdoing, it has also agreed to designate an internal “equal employment opportunity officer’ and train all employees on their rights and obligations to prevent future discrimination. The university has also agreed to create a system of complaint tracking and to revise policies on retaliation. The professor says that the settlement was a victory and has thanked the EEOC for pursuing the claim.

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