A federal appeals court on Friday reinstated a racial discrimination charge filed by a fired university employee, questioning why a lower court dismissed it without addressing the issue in its decision.
Emily Lewis began working as director of instructional design at Indiana Wesleyan University, a private Christian university in Marion, Indiana, in 2017, according to Friday’s decision of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago in Emily Lewis versus Indiana Wesleyan University.
In July 2018, Ms Lewis met with two university officials to discuss her concerns that her subordinates, who were all white, did not follow her instructions because of her race.
One of the managers told her she should get “black woman syndrome off (her) shoulders” and that she was “too smart,” according to the decision. She reported this conversation to the official who did not make the remark and to the chancellor of the university.
In February 2019, she was told by another university official, who the filing said was unaware of her discrimination complaint, that her position was being cut as part of her department’s merger with another. She turned down the offer of a research assistantship and quit working at the university.
Ms Lewis sued the university in US District Court in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on charges of retaliation and discrimination. The trial court granted the university summary judgment on her retaliation charges, but did not consider her racial discrimination claim.
The three-judge appeals court panel reinstated the discrimination claim, saying the district court ‘did not explain why it was granting summary judgment on Dr Lewis’ claim that his dismissal was discriminatory on racially”.
“As a result, we cannot be confident that the District Court properly considered the merits of this complaint,” the ruling said, upholding the dismissal of the retaliation allegations but declining to assess her racial discrimination claim. and sending the case back for a new proceeding on this issue.
Lawyers handling the case did not respond to requests for comment.