Former Duquesne faculty member files suit against university
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A former faculty member Tuesday filed suit in federal court charging Duquesne University and its law school with sexual harassment, gender discrimination, retaliation and breach of contract.
Alice L. Stewart charged that the actions were taken against her under the direction of Kenneth Gormley, dean of the law school.
In her complaint, Ms. Stewart said that in September 2006, she filed a complaint with the university alleging sexual harassment and a hostile work environment created by then-professor Gormley.
The university's compliance officer ruled in favor of Ms. Stewart in May 2007, but the university brought in outside counsel to reject the compliance officer's findings and recommendations.
Mr. Gormley became interim dean of the Duquesne Law School in December 2008 and was given the dean's job March 29, 2010.
Attorney Martha Hartle Munsch, an outside counsel representing Duquesne, on Tuesday evening said she had not had a chance to review the lawsuit, but she said if the allegations are the same as Ms. Stewart lodged in a previous administrative charge, "Duquesne flatly denies Ms. Stewart's allegations, intends to vigorously defend the case, and is confident it will prevail."
Ms. Stewart traced the start of the matter to 2003, when she and two other women were candidates for clinical tenure track faculty positions, but were told they would be denied those positions unless a national search for candidates was conducted.
Yet in March 2004, she claimed, Duquesne administrators gave a male professor such status without requiring a national search for candidates.
After her 2006 charge of sexual harassment against Mr. Gormley, Ms. Stewart said, she was subjected to numerous acts of retaliation, including having her job title changed, her pay reduced and her office relocated outside of the law school building. She said she also was the target of an internal audit and was passed over for a job opening for which she was more qualified than the person who was hired.
Ms. Stewart filed a discrimination charge with the state Human Relations Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in August 2009. The EEOC granted a right to sue in April 2010.
Duquesne's law school already is the target of a federal civil rights lawsuit filed last month by a former associate dean charging she was not considered for an interim deanship because of her race and gender.
Vanessa Browne-Barbour's suit said she was more qualified for the role of interim dean when it was given to Mr. Gormley in 2008.
Ms. Browne-Barbour resigned the next month.
Ms. Munsch filed an answer to Ms. Browne-Barbour's suit Thursday, denying that Duquesne violated her civil rights.
"Duquesne has not discriminated against [Ms. Browne-Barbour] on the basis of her sex or her race," the response said. "Duquesne has not violated any of plaintiff's rights or harmed her in any way."
First Published July 28, 2010 12:00 am