A proposed class action lawsuit alleges the University of Mississippi has engaged in deplorable, “largely off the record” age, gender and racial discrimination, with a workplace “rife with racial disparities” and an “overwhelmingly” white workforce.
The plaintiff, a former employee with the university’s human resources department, alleges in the 15-page lawsuit to have personally experienced age, gender and race discrimination and retaliation in response to complaints about what the case calls “such obvious and blatant racial discrimination in the UOM workforce.”
According to the complaint, the university’s leadership and staff have “systematically become increasingly younger and whiter,” deepening allegedly “notable and sharp” disparities in wages for minority and female employees in comparison to those of white, male employees at the school. The lawsuit alleges the University of Mississippi has “permitted and encouraged, through its policies, practices, preferences, and supervisorial appointments, a culture of discrimination that permeates all areas and levels of UOM, including its Human Resources Department.”
The plaintiff alleges that the school’s HR department, in response to her allegations of age, race and gender discrimination and retaliation, dragged the investigation out over seven months as she was “demoted and forced to retire.” The lawsuit says that after the plaintiff was removed as the head of the University of Mississippi’s human resources department by her boss, who is white, the woman’s job duties were split between a younger white male and female.
“The replacement of plaintiff by a younger male and female constitutes a prima facie case of age and sex discrimination,” the suit alleges.
According to the case, the university’s handling of the plaintiff’s claims is part of a larger pattern of “discrimination-oriented decision-making” at the school, which the suit says is the “logical and expected result of an institution dominated by white male leadership.” Further, the lawsuit alleges gender inequality is “endemic” at the University of Mississippi amid its “male-dominated atmosphere” in which women are stereotyped and pigeonholed into roles “perceived to be in their interest.”
The suit says that at least eight age-, race- and gender-related discrimination cases have been filed against the University of Mississippi since 2008.
Moreover, the lawsuit says people of color are overrepresented in low-wage jobs at the university and “highly underrepresented” in higher-paying positions. Women, according to the complaint, are “disproportionately paid poorly,” and the gaps in pay increase with tenure and, correspondingly, age.
The university, rather than take affirmative, decisive steps to eliminate pay disparities, has, according to the plaintiff, “chosen not to perform ecological studies based on race, age and gender discrimination or has undertaken its own study, presumably in order to attempt to explain away its prior discriminatory actions, and allow them to continue.”
The plaintiff, after her hiring by the university in December 1993, experienced racial discrimination with regard to assignments, promotions, compensation and opportunities for upward mobility before she was terminated from her role as senior assistant director of human resources on June 30, 2020, the suit alleges.
“Her claim is typical of all the potential class members’ claims of employment discrimination at UOM,” the case charges.
The lawsuit looks to represent a class of all similarly situated African American persons employed by the University of Mississippi, including all future, current and former full-time, permanent, temporary and part-time employees.
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