In 2014, Dr. Leah Hollis accepted an Assistant Professor position in Morgan State University’s Doctor of Community College Leadership Program. At the time of her hire, Hollis, already a renowned expert in the field of institutional bullying, had ten years of teaching experience, had co-edited a collection of peer-reviewed essays, co-authored a book and write two alone, including Unequal chances: dismissed without cause? Filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Five years after the book’s publication, Hollis filed her own lawsuit against Morgan State and six of its executives, alleging gender discrimination in pay and retaliation for harassment.
On April 11, 2019, the EEOC released the findings of its independent investigation into its allegations, including a ruling letter in its favor. According to the EEOC, Morgan State had “submitted [Hollis] unequal pay because of her gender ”, and that Hollis suffered“ unlawful retaliation ”after reporting his concerns.
Now, his team of attorneys are completing their discovery and preparing to face the historically Black Maryland College and University (HBCU) in court.
Morgan State has denied the allegations. Representatives of the Order did not respond to requests for Miscellaneous for comment.
It is highly unusual for the EEOC to come out in favor of the complaints, said Dr. Elizabeth “Beth” Hirsh, associate professor of sociology at the University of British Columbia.
“At best, only 5-7% of claims have reasonable cause,” Hirsh said. “Some years it’s 2 to 3%. In this case, it is even rarer. The EEOC has a formal resolution process. Two-thirds to three-quarters end in reconciliation, but that failed. “
Attorney Aderson B. Francois said the EEOC recommended Morgan State settle the case and issue salary arrears, but the university refused.
According to the complaint filed by Hollis, the problems began almost immediately after she was hired in early 2014. She alleges Morgan State hired male faculty before and after her arrival who received higher pay despite their less experience than she did. . In 2019, Hollis was still the lowest paid faculty member in the department, despite being one of the most recognized and productive academics in the faculty, Francois said.
“The differences are glaring,” he said. “When you point that out to Morgan State, they’ll say, ‘It’s not just the amount of work, it’s the quality.’ But here’s the problem: the key element academics use in education is the “h-index” on Google Scholar. [Dr. Hollis] has a higher h index. It was cited by everyone.
The h-index is a quantitative measure designed to analyze publications and citations to assess the importance of a researcher’s work. The higher the index, the more respected the scientist is.
Hollis claims in her complaint that Morgan State continued to mismanage her requests for review, promotion and tenure. She said that when she first applied for tenure and promotion in September 2016, her application was refused without her teaching ever being assessed. She said her application for tenure was also denied due to the lack of “substantial professional achievement”.
Hollis appealed the ruling twice, the second time noting that the ruling reflected gender discrimination. It was then, according to the complaint, that the harassment began. She applied for various positions both inside and outside the department, but was unsuccessful in either. She said her summer classes were cut after taking family sick leave to care for her ailing mother. She alleges that the harassment extended to the doctoral students she was counseling.
Around the time the EEOC issued its letter of determination, Morgan State granted Hollis the tenure, but offered no recognition of his previous appeals, no promotion to full professor, and no significant increase in his tenure. salary. Francois calculates that Hollis could owe a minimum of $ 450,000 from the university. In addition, she wants the university to issue a statement “confirming that [she] suffered unlawful discrimination, received unlawfully unequal pay and suffered unlawful retaliation. “
Hollis says what happened to him was not an isolated incident. The university is currently facing three other lawsuits for unfair dismissal and gender discrimination.
Unless Morgan State and Hollis come to an agreement, the case is expected to go to court next year.
Liann Herder can be contacted at [email protected].