A white professor is suing historically black Alabama State University (ASU) over claims that he, as a white man, was discriminated against.
Dr. John Garland claims that it was not only a matter of race over which he faced discrimination. Instead, he claims that the matter is also one of his sexuality: he married his white same-sex partner, Dr. Steven Chesbro, in Maryland in February 2013.
Garland filed a federal lawsuit on June 11, claiming that ASU and eight current and former employees discriminated against applicants for university positions based on their race.
Furthermore, he claims that when he retaliated against those practices, he was targeted.
Garland was hired by the university in August 2008 as an adjunct professor. In January 2009, he was rehired as an assistant professor in the College of Health Sciences (COHS).
Chesbro is currently the dean of COHS, a department that students and faculty allegedly refer to as “the White House.”
Chesbro has filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charge against the university.
As Garland's lawsuit reads, “A small, powerful group at the University believes that Drs. Garland and Chesbro have no place at the University simply because of their non-African-American or non-Black identity.”
The lawsuit goes on to allege that this group has “conspired to destroy the careers and employment of these two dedicated teachers.”
While the lawsuit allows that some administrators and faculty “welcome and support” the two professors, it states that others “reluctantly accept their presence as a necessary evil due to legal considerations.”
Garland claims that he was promised to be “laterally” transferred to a different position in 2013 to resolve tension he had been having with his supervisor. Although the transfer was completed, it reduced his salary by $23,000 a year.
Now, the 46-year-old professor claims that he is “entitled to reinstatement to his former position, or a comparable position.”
Furthermore, he is requesting “the removal of derogatory, defamatory, and inaccurate material from his personnel file, back pay and lost benefits and ‘freedom to work in a non-discriminatory, non-retaliatory, and non-hostile environment.'”
Garland’s lawyer, Wayne Sabel, said that both men intend to stay at ASU, but that they will continue to “seek a favorable resolution to the issues raised in the lawsuit.”
ASU officials said that university has no comments about the lawsuit.