Former admin claims discrimination
NICOLE MICHELS | Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Dr. G. David Moss, former assistant vice president of academic affairs, filed a lawsuit in federal court in South Bend against the University and Vice President for Student Affairs Erin Hoffmann-Harding, in response to alleged discrimination he faced from the administration.
Moss, who now works as an administrator with the South Bend Community School Corp., sued because he was demoted following his condemnation of two incidents of racial discrimination at the University in the spring 2012 term.
The complaint alleges Moss pursued a promotion from his position as assistant vice president of student affairs to associate vice president of student affairs. Subsequently, the complaint asserts Hoffmann-Harding demoted Moss to the post of senior consultant while attempting to arrange his further demotion or termination.
Hoffmann-Harding indicated to Moss that she was considering terminating his employment from summer 2012 until August 2013, the complaint claims.
Moss supervised the Call to Action movement, an African-American student group, in the spring of 2012 as part of his job duties, the complaint alleges. During this time, the complaint asserts someone or a group of people targeted the group, leaving pieces of fried chicken in the organization’s mailbox on two separate occasions.
Moss responded comprehensively and vocally to these racial stereotyping actions on campus, the complaint asserts, and his actions earned significant publicity both on and off campus. His response included supporting the Call to Action movement, calling for investigation of the incidents and planning ways to “address the underlying racism on campus that caused them,” the complaint alleges.
Moss sought promotion after his public involvement with the movement, and the complaint alleges Hoffmann-Harding’s subsequent actions in demoting and threatening Moss with termination were motivated by race and in retaliation for Moss’s contributions to the Call to Action student group.
Moss is seeking monetary damages and a judgment that proves the University’s actions were unconstitutional and violated federal employment statutes.
University spokesman Dennis Brown said the University is investigating the complaint.
“We are examining the complaint, which we just received, but we’re confident that Mr. Moss was treated fairly during his employment, and we reject the claim that we discriminate,” Brown said. “We also want to make it clear that the incidents that occurred in February 2012 were unacceptable. We have taken them very seriously and – as evidenced by the committee on diversity appointed by [University President] Fr. Jenkins earlier this year – we continue to make every effort to ensure that our campus is welcoming to all.”
Brown said the town hall meeting called by the University in response to the discriminatory incidents has been employed as a way to train staff.
“The town hall meeting sponsored after the event in 2012 was videotaped, and has been used extensively in training of student affairs staff, including hundreds of residence hall staff and each department within student affairs,” Brown said. “In addition, in collaboration with student leaders and at the suggestion of students, diversity training has been added to freshman orientation and with campus safety officers.”
Moss also filed a claim with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). After investigation of his claim, the commission reported that it is “unable to conclude that the information obtained establishes violations of the statutes.”
Thomas Dixon, Moss’ attorney, did not respond to requests for comment.
Contact Nicole Michels at [email protected]