KSU professor files discrimination suit

A female Kennesaw State University professor claims a male subordinate co-worker received a higher salary.

And when she complained about it, she was denied the opportunity for a promotion, according to a civil rights lawsuit filed against the university, KSU President Daniel Papp, and the state Board of Regents.

Mary Murray was hired as an assistant professor in the university’s department of computer science and information systems in August 2000. Five years later, she was promoted to the rank of associate professor, according to the suit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Atlanta.

In April 2007, Murray found out she was being paid less than Solomon Negash, according to the suit. In July 2007, she filed a gender discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The following May, Murray complained to KSU about the pay discrepancy. In June 2008, Negash was promoted to associate professor, and was apparently going to continue to receive more compensation than Murray, according to the suit.

When she applied for promotion to professor, KSU “flatly refused to even consider it despite the fact that she was eligible for promotion ... in retaliation for her opposition to unlawful gender discrimination,” the suit states.

“I’ve never seen an education institution be in such a blatant violation of its own procedures,” said Robert Marx, Murray’s attorney.

The KSU office of university relations has been asked twice to comment on Murray’s allegations.

Friday afternoon, the university released the following statement: “We understand that a lawsuit has been filed, but we have not yet been served, it would be inappropriate to comment on any aspects of the matter at this time.”

Murray had the unanimous support of her colleagues when she applied for the promotion, but was still denied Marx said. “The dean left the papers on her desk.”

The lawsuit also claims that Murray, who is white, is a victim of racial discrimination.

Murray, who is still employed at the university, is seeking an undisclosed amount of money for mental anguish, interest and attorney fees, according to the suit.

“I can just imagine what it’s like going to work in the morning,” Marx said.

KSU has faced lawsuits in the past from several of its staff members and former staff members.

In December, two former KSU employees filed individual lawsuits against the school and the Georgia Board of Regents. In one, a fired administrative assistant alleged a tenured professor made inappropriate comments to her.

In March 2000, 13 tenured African-American faculty signed a letter urging then-president Betty Siegel to do more to recruit and retain black students and faculty.

In probably the biggest case to surface from the university, professor Paul Lapides’s case made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2002.

His lawsuit said that while Kennesaw State’s investigation found a harassment claim against him to be unfounded, the school unfairly stated that another student had unspecified “concerns” about his conduct.

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