Earlier this week, Dr. Princess Dennar filed a lawsuit against Tulane University over allegations of racial discrimination.
Tulane University is in hot water over a lawsuit that alleges it discriminated against the former head of the Tulane University School of Medicine’s internal medicine-pediatrics program, Dr. Princess Dennar. From a young age, Dennar knew she wanted to be a doctor when she grew up. That dream came true at reached a pinnacle when she became the “first Black woman to head the Tulane University School of Medicine’s internal medicine-pediatrics program.” In an interview, she said, “My parents [said] there is no glass ceiling. That was the philosophy that they implanted in me.” Unfortunately, her position at the school came to an abrupt end when she was suspended when she filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against Tulane.
Even though Dennar worked hard in her career to break through barriers, she experienced discrimination and alleges Tulane discriminated against her by “creating a race and gender-based hostile environment.” According to her suit, Dennar experienced “discrimination starting in 2008 when she first interviewed for a director position at the program.” The suit further states that “Dr. Lee Hamm, who is now the dean of Tulane’s School of Medicine and was the chair of the internal medicine department at the time, told Dennar that she could become only co-director because white medical students wouldn’t follow or rank favorably a program with a Black program director.” The suit claims the school “didn’t want to change the face of Tulane with her at the helm.”
As a result, Dennar went to Tulane’s Office on Institutional Equity and filed an internal complaint. However, soon after, she was “offered a contract renewal with a proposed $30,000 pay cut.” Again, she filed a complaint with the Office of Institutional Equity and her salary was eventually restored. Since then, she’s filed three federal Equal Employment Opportunity complaints and won the right to sue in two of those complaints.
When talking about her experiences working for the university, Dennar noted that her position as the school’s first black director “came with a lot of weight…It also came with what I began to see as a pattern of exclusion and a pattern of abuse.” According to her lawsuit, the pattern of discrimination was not limited to just her. In fact, she alleges the school’s internal ranking system for students, “called ATLAS, rated students who attended historically Black colleges and universities lower than those who did not.” Additionally, “residents who were female or belonged to minority groups at Tulane were given less favorable rotation schedules and deprived of earning enough hours in certain types of training needed to graduate” the suit claims.
Dennar said, “They were burdened with not having an equitable educational experience in comparison to their white counterparts.”
When asked about the allegations, Tulane said “Hamm categorically denies the allegations of racist language outlined in Dennar’s lawsuit.” It added that the school is “committed to fostering an equitable and inclusive community and discrimination, in any form, has no place and is not tolerated.” The school further said Dennar’s “suspension was based on serious concerns raised by a special review from an independent panel and that it is engaging an outside consultant to facilitate discussion and discovery at the School of Medicine.”