MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Two gay, white professors at Alabama State University filed a lawsuit against the school alleging racial and sexual discrimination.
Steven B. Chesbro, the only white dean at ASU, is suing the university with his partner and fellow faculty member John Garland because they contend school officials give black candidates for teaching positions and graduate admissions preference over whites, the Montgomery Advertiser reports.
“The university denies those allegations,” Bobby Segall, an ASU attorney, told the news site. “They deny that anything related to their employment arose because of anything racial or anything related to their sexual orientation.”
The complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Montgomery tells a different story.
The lawsuit alleges “as many as six EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) charges, not including those directly involving this matter, are not pending against the university alleging race or gender discrimination,” according to USA Today.
The professors also contend that a search committee was targeting mostly black female candidates for one teaching position, and the university tilted admissions to a doctoral program for physical therapy in favor of black students.
“Of the 47 black applicants who applied for admission to the doctoral program for physical thearapy in 2013, 20 percent met the required GPA standard, but 57 percent of the candidates were admitted. In contrast, of the 137 white applicants, 59 percent met the required GPA standard, but only 32 percent were admitted,” according to the lawsuit, cited by the Advertiser.
Garland also complained that nepotism rules implemented in 2012 don’t apply to same-sex couples, and voiced his concerns with school officials.
“Garland said in the initial suit that after his comments, he was transferred to a lesser job, resulting in a salary reduction of more than $23,000, that all his contact information, biography and curriculum vitae were removed from the university website and that he was placed in an office where for months he had no working computer, mail service, phone extension, copying capabilities, bookshelves or file cabinets,” the Advertiser reports.
“The suit states that to date, Garland has not received any campus mail at the office where he was moved on Aug. 21, 2012, and that the university operator has been incorrectly telling callers that he no longer works at the university.”
Wayne Sabel, attorney for Chesbro and Garland, said “you look at some of the statements they have made that are in the complaint, and they are saying things like, ‘Only black professors should teach black students.’”
Sabel alleges his clients have been threatened by ASU officials in more ways than one.
“They have told Dr. Chesbro that his hands are tied in the face of gross insubordination, and even threats of physical harm,” Sabel said, according to The Root.
“There is clearly a campaign not only to force Dr. Chesbro and Dr. Garland out, but to force out a number of other longtime white faculty,” he said.