Meg Kinnard, AP, April 8, 2009
A historically black college in South Carolina has been sued after three white faculty members say they were passed over for jobs or let go for because of their race, federal officials announced today.
Alleging that Benedict College “engaged in unlawful practices,” the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission also said today that the Columbia school had also agreed to pay $55,000 to each of the three former instructors.
In its complaint, the EEOC says art instructor Argiri Aggelopoulou in December 2004 applied for but did not receive a position as assistant art history professor, adding she was instead passed over in favor of a black instructor.
In March 2005, Benedict did not renew teaching contracts for Aggelopoulou and two other instructors–assistant art professor Michael Hale and Katherine Mille, an associate English professor–because of their race, the complaint says.
In a response also filed today, an attorney for Benedict denied any allegations of discrimination and said the school acted in good faith and treated the employees fairly.
“The College further responds that it embraces diversity and opposes discrimination,” attorney Carol Ervin wrote, citing part of the school’s mission statement, which states “Benedict College is an equal opportunity educational institution. We seek geographic, international, and racial diversity in our student body.”
According to its Web site, Benedict is a private, coed liberal arts school with more than 2,500 students with a “continued commitment to facilitate the empowerment, enhancement, and full participation of African-Americans in American society.”