University found guilty of retaliation against former employee
SF State was found guilty of retaliatory practices in a lawsuit brought by a former employee, in a verdict reached on Friday at San Francisco Superior Court.
The lawsuit was filed in February 2015 by Dr. Rashmi Gupta, who worked as an assistant professor of social work from 2006 until her termination in June 2014.
“The University appreciates the time, patience and energy of the jury and we respect their decision,” the University replied in a statement. “However, SF State does not agree with the finding of liability and maintains that the decision not to grant tenure to Dr. Gupta was based on legitimate academic reasons. We are reviewing the University’s options for appeal.”
Gupta was awarded approximately $40,000 for past economic damages and $322,000 in future economic losses, according to the plaintiff’s attorney, Aaron Gorfein of the Law Offices Of Elizabeth F. McDonald. While the suit also alleged racial and gender discrimination, the jury found the University not guilty of these charges.
Gupta, a woman of Indian national origin, alleged that SF State performed discriminatory and retaliatory actions against her in 2009 when she complained that faculty of Indian origin were “being systematically paid less than their similarly situated colleagues,” according to court documents.
Since Gupta’s first complaint, she had been denied requests for leave of absence, early tenure, and research funds to support her work, according to court documents. In 2012 Gupta filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regarding the denial of her requests.
Gupta’s complaints of racial and gender discrimination against the University were protected under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, according to court documents.
“The matter went to arbitration and it was determined by the arbitrator that (SF State) had not properly reviewed (Gupta’s) application for tenure,” according to court documents. “The arbitrator required that (SF State) re-review (Gupta) for tenure the following year.”
The plaintiff later dismissed her lawsuit because she was representing herself for that case in the federal courts. She was hoping for a settlement agreement which turned out not to work, according to Gorfein.
“The litigation is not entirely over because she still has the possibility of receiving, also through the court, reinstatement to her former position,” said Gorfein.