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Denver Area University Is Caught Discriminating Against a Teacher for Dubious Reasons

Anderson Barkley LLC June 16, 2020

A former employee of the University of Colorado at Boulder is suing the university for actions related to his wrongful termination and discrimination against him.

University of Colorado Is Named in Complaint Filed by Former Employee

The lawsuit essentially alleges that the victim was passed over for promotions because of his race, and then he was eventually fired by the university as a form of retaliation for pointing out their discriminatory practices.

The plaintiff brought the federal case in the local U.S. District Court for Colorado. The university itself, along with the board of regents, and the chancellor were all attached as defendants. The specific claims against them were for breach of contract and lack of equal protection, as required by law.

The university released a statement shortly afterward, saying that all of the allegations are without merit and that their actions were well within the boundaries of the law while dealing with this individual. They said that the university acted fairly and equitably through the dispute.

The pleading that was filed gives more details about the plaintiff’s struggle with the university’s administration. He was initially hired as a research associate by the faculty in his department, but he had expressed a desire to work as a teacher in some capacity. He told two high ranking supervisory employees at the school’s atmospheric and oceanic sciences department of his intentions. His immediate supervisor did tell him that he would be the primary candidate for an opening at the time.

Despite these recommendations from the plaintiff’s superiors, both the chair of the department and the person in charge of hiring did not consider him at all. About a year later, the plaintiff noticed a similar opening through the university’s website, and applied again. The plaintiff opened a second account under a different name where he was routinely notified of openings by the department chair, but the email account under his real name never received any such updates. He was passed over multiple times between 2013 and 2015, even as the fake account he made under a different name was encouraged to apply to them.

After this happened on several different occasions, the plaintiff informed his immediate supervisor. The supervisory employee made some odd statements to him that seemed discriminatory, but never addressed the issue appropriately. The plaintiff eventually told his supervisor of the fake account he had been using to receive updates about open positions that he never received to his real email.

After revealing these tactics, the university did offer him a teaching position in the department of oceanic and atmospheric sciences, however the plaintiff believes that this was part of a plot to subject him to a very harsh environment where he would quit or be terminated shortly afterward. He believes that the faculty would simply claim that he was not qualified to teach after these actions.

There seemed to be a plot between one of the plaintiff’s supervisors and another teacher to actively undermine the plaintiff’s efforts and ruin his reputation. Apparently, this other teacher had gone to another student and asked him to formally complain about the plaintiff so that formal actions could be taken against him.

The plaintiff eventually lost his position due to two complaints that were filed in this manner out of over 300 students in his lectures. He was fired at the end of the fall semester in 2016.

The supervisory employees who were implicated in the scandal claimed during an interview with the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance that they were not familiar with the university where he obtained his prior degree in Canada, and that was why he was passed over for teaching jobs. The plaintiff attended York University. They further explained that the fake email address made by the plaintiff was given job opening notifications because it was a Colorado State University email address, which was part of a separate list. They also claimed a greater familiarity with Colorado State and the quality of education and training from applicants there.

All of the supervisory employees and department chairs are named as defendants in the lawsuits. The plaintiff was seeking back pay, emotional distress, and punitive damages.

Lawsuits Against Employers Who Deny Promotions and Retaliate Against Workers

An employer is only allowed to terminate their employees for neutral reasons such as financial problems or poor job performance. They are not allowed to use someone’s race, gender, nationality, or background as a pretext to treat them poorly or deny them benefits which they qualify for. Any workplace that engages in these kinds of activities may be served with a civil employment lawsuit.

Take Legal Action Against an Employer

There are attorneys in Denver who can assist you if you believe that you have been denied benefits or promotions because of a protected characteristic. Contact Anderson Barkley Attorneys at Law for more information.