Update: Associate professor files discrimination suit against Webster University


Read full text of Tracey McCarthy’s lawsuit against Webster University.

Webster University Associate Professor Tracey McCarthy has filed a lawsuit against the university, asking for $25,000 in damages on each of four counts of employment discrimination the suit alleges to have taken place in the past three years.  The suit was filed a week ago in St. Louis County Circuit Court.

According to Missouri case.net, President Elizabeth Stroble was served with the lawsuit summons Aug. 19.

McCarthy is a full-time faculty member in the legal studies department.

The suit contends McCarthy should be compensated for her “lost income, pain and suffering, and mental anguish” and that the university’s treatment of her was “intentional, wanton, and unconscionable.”

The university’s public-affairs office to this point has only confirmed the suit was delivered Aug. 19. One of McCarthy’s allegations in the suit was that David Wilson, dean of arts and sciences, “kissed plaintiff at a professional social gathering.” On Aug. 23, Wilson said he was unable to offer any comment since the situation is under litigation.

This marks the second employment discrimination lawsuit filed against Webster this year. In January, David Garafola – the university’s former chief financial officer – sued the university, alleging he was unfairly forced to leave his position. Webster’s motion to dismiss the case was rejected by Missouri Circuit Court Judge Tom De Priest. A settlement hearing in the case has been scheduled for Oct. 13.

Since Nov. 25, 2009, McCarthy has filed three discrimination complaints with both the Missouri Commission on Human Rights and the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. McCarthy was issued a “Notice of Right to Sue” by the Missouri Commission on Human Rights in May 2011 and August 2011.

The lawsuit states McCarthy is taking the university to court after exhausting her “administrative remedies.”

According to the text of the lawsuit, McCarthy alleges she was discriminated against regarding her race, sex and disability.

Count I

  • In March 2009, McCarthy alleges she was subjected to a post-tenure review she believes was influenced by her race; McCarthy is African-American. She states that other white faculty, similarly situated, were not subjected to a post-tenure review.
  • On Nov. 18, 2009, according to the suit,  she was, “directed to refrain from all non-instructional departmental duties.” On Nov. 19, 2009, she states she was detained by campus security and excluded from a faculty meeting.
  • McCarthy states she was told her exclusion was being done to cool down departmental tensions. According to the suit, no white faculty were required to be absent from meetings and committee work.

Count II

  • The lawsuit claims that in 2009, David Wilson, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, kissed McCarthy during a professional social gathering. McCarthy alleges the action was unwelcomed . Despite McCarthy’s complaints to administrators, the suit alleges, no effort was made to minimize her workplace contact with Wilson, which McCarthy believe created a hostile work environment.

Count III

  • The text of the suit states McCarthy has a cardio-pulmonary lung disorder, of which she made her superiors aware prior to Sept. 3, 2010. Around this time, she states she was “experiencing difficulty breathing due to an on-going construction at Webster University.”
  • The suit claims she requested a different workspace that is “free of air pollutants.” She claims her request was ignored.

Count IV

  • The lawsuit states McCarthy filed several internal complaints of discrimination with her supervisor, Don Conway Long, who was chair of McCarthy’s department at the time. The suit alleges that, as a result of her complaints, the university retaliated against her by being subjected to the post-tenure review and being excluded from professional development as well as faculty meetings.
  • The suit contends McCarthy was “terminated from her former position as Joint Faculty Appointment in Psychology and Legal Studies, Associate Professor, and reassigned as Associate Professor of Legal Studies on Aug. 20, 2010.”

McCarthy, who has taught at Webster since 1997, is being represented by St. Louis attorney Donnell Smith.

Check back at www.WebsterJournal.com, as well as in the next print edition of The Journal due to be published Aug. 31, for updates and reactions to this story.

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