University denies allegations in discrimination lawsuit
In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, the university has denied discrimination, harassment and retaliation.
Filed by Sara Kubik, the lawsuit is related to the journalism faculty member's medical leave.
Kubik said she and the university will begin court-ordered mediation.
Besides the Board of Trustees and Provost Michael Gealt, those named in the lawsuit include College of Communication and Fine Arts Interim Dean Shelly Hinck, former Journalism Department Chair Maria Marron and journalism faculty members Lori Brost and Tim Boudreau. According to court documents, the university denies violating federal or state law when it refused to reappoint Kubik, a non-tenured professor, who was "not performing adequately."
The defendants requested that the court dismiss the accusations made by Kubik and that they be awarded attorney fees, calling the accusations "meritless" in the documents.
Kubik is seeking declaration of unlawful action, compensatory damages, attorney fees, reinstatement to her employment and position and other relief as the court deems necessary.
As a non-tenured professor, Kubik submitted forms requesting time off through Family & Medical Leave Act in 2013. She requested a tenure clock extension to accommodate her pregnancy.
When Kubik filed the lawsuit, she alleged Marron harassed her by contacting her about work during her medical leave. She also said Marron told the former dean that she was inclined not to grant Kubik's tenure extension. Kubik said Marron changed her teaching schedule, refused to give Kubik priority scheduling, giving a more favorable schedule to a male adjunct, and that Marron shared personal information about Kubik with other faculty members. Marron denies all of the allegations.
During a faculty meeting in September 2014, the journalism department recommended not reappointing Kubik. According to the documents, their recommendation was due to her lack of performance, including published relevant scholarship.
During the meeting, Kubik was question by Brost and Boudreau, who also serves as a faculty representative on Central Michigan Life's publication board, about a complaint she filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging sex discrimination and retaliation.
Her internal complaints were filed against three different faculty members, including Marron and Brost. CMU dismissed the complaint against Brost and the other faculty member, but admitted to discrimination regarding Marron.
The documents say the faculty members questioned her because she included information about her internal complaint of discrimination in her submission to the journalism department. Faculty expressed their "frank" views about Kubik's lack of relevant scholarship and service to the department. They say Kubik was told that her failures were the cause of her lack of reappointment, not that she filed the complaint.
Kubik said during the meeting, Boudreau expressed anger that he had to attend a training session following Kubik's complaint. Boudreau denies the accusation. Brost denies telling Kubik she created a hostile work environment by filing it, saying her words were taken out of context.
Kubik alleged there were similarly-positioned male faculty members who were reappointed, but the defense deny those allegations. The defendants denies giving male employees favorable treatment.
The defense denies discrimination under Title VII, a branch of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protecting individuals against employment discrimination on the bases of race and color, national origin, sex and religion. They deny that Kubik has suffered mental or physical harm due to harassment or discrimination.
The defendants also deny violation the Elliot Larsen Civil Rights Act, saying discrimination based on Kubik's sex or pregnancy did not take place. ELRCA prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, education and access to public accommodations.