An Alabama State University professor has filed a discrimination lawsuit against the school. The suit alleges ASU officials "engaged in a pattern of discriminatory practices, retaliation, academic bullying, and support of a hostile work environment for non-Black faculty."
The suit was filed on June 11 in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama by Dr. John L. Garland, a Native American who is perceived to be white. ASU is an historically black university (HBCU).
The university released a statement Monday saying, "ASU has been served with a copy of the lawsuit today and since it concerns an on-going and active lawsuit, the University has no comment about it."
Garland, 46, says he witnessed discrimination on multiple occasions. For example, he says job applications were often dismissed on racial grounds. He says he recalls hearing statements like, "only African Americans are suited to our type of institution."
The suit claims that once Garland spoke out about the discrimination to his supervisor, he "became a direct target".
[DOCUMENT: Garland lawsuit (.pdf)]
Garland claims he was removed from his position as a graduate professor of counseling and made to teach only freshman orientation. He says he also was threatened with termination and made "virtually invisible" on ASU's campus when he was put in an office without a phone number or functional computer.
The suit also alleges that Garland's pay was illegally reduced and ASU officials altered his employment contract by "unilaterally removing previously agreed upon terms."
Garland also claims the University is discriminating against him on the basis of his sexual orientation. He and his male spouse, Dr. Steven Chesbro, have been partners for more than 22 years and were legally married in Maryland.
The lawsuit says Dr. Chesbro, who is also an ASU faculty member, is also being targeted for termination and "other negative actions by University officials".
Garland says he tried to resolve the matter before filing suit, but the filing claims "ASU has shown no interest in resolving the issues without litigation."
The suit seeks to have Garland reinstated to a tenured professor in the Rehabilitation Counseling Department. He is also seeking back pay, reimbursement for lost compensation, attorney's fees, and compensatory & punitive damages.
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