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Racial Discrimination Lawsuit Against Yale University Set to Continue

— November 7, 2017

A lawsuit against Yale University is expected to proceed, even after a U.S. district court judge tossed “out one of the seven counts leveled by a former employee who claimed racial discrimination and harassment by his supervisor.” U.S. District Judge Janet Hall decided to dismiss Leon McCalla’s “claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress” because she said the “plaintiff failed to show the alleged conduct against him met the high bar of his claim.” In fact, in a written statement Hall said: “The court agrees that the facts alleged by McCalla do not rise to the level of extreme and outrageous and count seven is dismissed on this ground.”

But what sort of discrimination did McCalla claim happened? What was his role at the University? For starters, McCalla “worked as a lab technician at the university’s Animal Resources Center.” While working there, McCalla claimed he was “belittled, micromanaged and repeatedly put down by Melissa Bonk, his supervisor since May 2013.” As a result, he filed the lawsuit against the university back on June 23, “citing violations under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”

Words 'Racial Discrimination' written in white against black background
Racial Discrimination; Image Courtesy of YouTube,

As “one of the three African-American lab technicians,” McCalla also claimed other minority lab technicians were regularly “reprimanded, either verbally or written, by Bonk, who is white,” while the other white lab technicians weren’t “reprimanded for the same infractions that their African-American counterparts were.” To support his claims, McCalla pointed out an example from March 2016. In that particular incident, “Ms. Bonk berated, ridiculed and insulted him for pointing out a scheduling error that Scott Wilson, his backup scheduler made. Wilson, who is white, was not ridiculed or disciplined,” according to the lawsuit.

Additionally, the lawsuit also claims “African-American workers were written up for coming into work late when the same rule didn’t apply to their white counterparts.” He also alleged that Bonk made his “work environment unbearable by degrading him in front of others after he filed several complaints against her,” so much so that in August 2016 he was discharged from Yale because he “could no longer tolerate Yale’s hostile work environment.”

So now that one of McCalla’s seven counts has been dismissed, what are the other six? What does he hope to gain from the lawsuit? Well, according to the lawsuit, the six remaining counts include: discrimination based on race and nationality, a violation of Title VII; retaliation based upon race and nationality, a violation of Title VII; race and nationality discrimination, a violation of Connecticut general statutes; race and nationality discrimination, retaliation in violation of Connecticut general statutes; hostile work environment, a violation of Title VII; and hostile work environment based upon race and national discrimination, a violation of Connecticut general statutes.

At the moment McCalla is seeking a jury trial in addition to punitive damages, pre-judgment interest, and attorney fees.

How has Yale reacted to the allegations and the pending lawsuit? Well, the attorney representing Yale, Kevin Shea, said:

“Our next step is to proceed with discovery on the remaining counts. The other counts may or may not have factual disputes that we do not know about until we proceed with discovery. The university is defending these claims.”


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