Chapman University has agreed to pay $75,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging a former assistant professor was denied tenure because she is black.
Stephanie Dellande was denied tenure and a promotion to associate professor of marketing in the university's George L. Argyros School of Business and Economics in 2006. She was let go in June 2008 after an appeal failed.
U.S. District Judge John A. Kronstadt signed off on a consent decree Friday.
Dellande, who has a doctorate in marketing from UC Irvine, a master's degree from UC Riverside and a bachelor's degree from Loyola University, started teaching at Chapman in September 2001.
The EEOC sued Chapman in September 2010, but the university got the lawsuit thrown out by a federal court judge, prompting an appeal that led to settlement by consent decree.
"Rather than continue to spend valuable time and resources on this action, Chapman decided to terminate the litigation through settlement," the university said in a statement.
University officials agreed to improve racial discrimination training.
Dellande was the first black professor to apply for tenure at the business school, and the EEOC claimed she was held to higher standards than non- black educators.
"The outcome is a victory to me," Dellande told City News Service. "I'm very fortunate to have the EEOC represent my case and represent me... This is still a very emotional issue to me."
Dellande now teaches at another college in the Silicon Valley, but declined to say which one. She is also doing research and writing for academic journals, she said.
Chapman officials said there was no admission of wrongdoing in the settlement.
"The EEOC's case had no merit, and the federal judge saw that," Chapman University Chancellor Daniele Struppa said.
"Candidates for tenure must meet very high standards, and the decision in Professor Dellande's case was based solely on her accumulated record of teaching, service and scholarship.
"From the outset of the case, Chapman University has denied that race played any role in its decision to deny professor Dellande's application to be promoted to a tenured position. Chapman cooperated with the EEOC's investigation for more than three years before the lawsuit was filed.
"Chapman provided the EEOC with proof that Chapman's decision was based on a good-faith determination that Professor Dellande's overall qualifications fell short of Chapman's high standards for granting tenure."
Dellande's attorney, Connie Liem, said Chapman changed the standards after her client applied for tenure.
"In essence they moved the goal post and they should have told her where the goal post was," Liem said. "So which standard are they talking about?"
--City News Service