Professors File Landmark Suit Exposing Cover Up of Discrimination and Corruption at University of Michigan
Two highly-accomplished, award-winning faculty have filed a joint complaint against the University of Michigan for violations of the Michigan Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act based on race discrimination, gender discrimination, marital status discrimination, race hostile work environment, and retaliation; and violations of the Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act, for discriminatory hostile treatment and retaliation.
The complaint demonstrates that U-M’s highly publicized “diversity” campaigns are driven by self-serving rhetoric and false promises designed to deflect attention from serious and ongoing problems of institutional racism, underrepresentation of minority groups, and a hostile campus climate for marginalized groups. The complaint documents multiple instances in which university leaders acted to suppress complaints of discrimination and retaliate against faculty and students who reported both systemic patterns and individual acts of discrimination. It reveals misconduct and complicity by administrators from the departmental level to the highest ranks of the deans’ and provost’s offices, including UM’s chief diversity officer.
While on protected leave under the Family Medical Leave Act to care for a baby with Down syndrome in Winter 2015, Emily Lawsin, a professor in the Departments of American Culture and Women’s Studies, was sent a layoff notice with no prior warning and despite her strong teaching record dating back to 2000. Lawsin successfully contested that layoff, but the university again barred her from teaching during the current Winter 2017 Semester.
Scott Kurashige, formerly professor in the Department of American Culture, was terminated from his position as Director of the Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies Program in December 2013 and was forced out of a tenured faculty position through a constructive termination in summer 2014 after successfully working at U-M for 14 years. Kurashige is one of 20 faculty of color, an alarming number, who left (with many forced out from) the small-to- medium sized Department of American Culture between 1997 and 2016.
Professor Lawsin requests reinstatement to her Lecturer IV faculty position without a “Remediation Plan.” Professor Kurashige requests that U-M reinstate him to his former positions of Professor with tenure and Director of the Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies Program at an equitable salary reflecting his experience and achievements. Both request economic and non-economic damages and permanent injunctive relief to stop race/ethnic discrimination at U-M.
Professors Lawsin and Kurashige are represented by Alice Jennings, a partner in the law firm of Edwards & Jennings, PC, based in Detroit. The above summary provides highlights of the 74-page complaint—filed in Washtenaw County Circuit Court on December 5, 2016.