The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) receives a lot of complaints. But one complaint may have really gotten their attention. This one came from a former HBCU professor who says that she was fired because she is white.
“In my opinion, had I been African-American, they would not have fired me,” Shira Hedgepeth, former director of academic technology at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina, told the New York Daily News.
“They had no documentation of any problem with my employment. I was highly regarded as a qualified employee.”
The university might end up paying a price for firing Hedgepeth, since the EEOC has reportedly ruled in her favor. She says that she was fired after three years without so much as a warning that her employment would be terminated.
Hedgepeth was apparently fired because the university was “going in a different direction,” according to a letter received by the EEOC.
Nancy Young, a spokeswoman for WSSU, said that she can’t comment on the matter, due to an on-going investigation. The university did write a letter stating that the matter would be taken to mediation. If the issue is not resolved via mediation, it could be taken to federal court.
The firing occurred right after the university hired a new associate provost and chief information officer. Hedgepeth claims that white employees were being fired for no good reason, which presented a pattern of alleged discrimination by the university. But as of the 2010 – 2011 fiscal year, a full 23.9% of the faculty at WSSU are white, which is a statistic that far exceeds the percentage of black professors at predominantly white universities. Many white universities have departments that have never hired a black professor at all.