The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor did not discriminate or retaliate against a pair of married professors who raised complaints about disparate treatment of their colleagues of color, a jury found following a trial in a local county court. Scott Kurashige, a former director of Asian-American and Pacific Islander studies at Michigan, and Emily Lawsin, a current lecturer there, sued the university several years ago, alleging that they were treated in a hostile manner after trying to expose what they called race- and gender-based discrimination and inequity within their department and throughout the campus. 

Kurashige, who is now a professor at the University of Washington at Bothell, says he was terminated from his leadership position at Michigan and eventually forced out of his faculty role after asking his dean for equitable retention packages for three faculty members. Lawsin said that classes she’d long taught were taken away from her and that the university once tried to lay her off while she was on protected leave taking care of their baby with Down syndrome. Her contract was later renewed. The initial lawsuit said that at least 20 full-time faculty members of color left Michigan between 1997 and 2016 because they were “disparately denied tenure despite strong academic records,” and that others reported they’d left due to racial bias, according to Mlive. The university denied these claims. 

 

Mlive reported that the jury rejected all allegations of disparate treatment and racial discrimination, harassment, retaliation, sex discrimination and discrimination based on a disability. The university said it was pleased with the outcome of the trial.

Inside Higher Ed