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Jury Finds ASU Retaliated Against Black Professors for Criticism on Diversity Hiring

Nicholas Alozie, a professor of public policy, sued Arizona State University (ASU) after it passed him over for a position as dean. He claimed ASU did not give him the position because he is Black and had criticized the institution’s diversity efforts.

The University interviewed four individuals for the open dean position. The hiring committee prepared ten general questions for each candidate and two individual questions. Alozie handed the committee a prepared written statement. In that statement, he discussed the “’revolving door’ of minority scholars leaving ASU as quick as they arrived because they didn’t think the environment was favorable enough to warrant their staying at ASU.” Alozie alleged he did not receive a second interview for the position because of his race and his criticism of the University’s hiring practices with respect to diverse candidates. ASU gave the position to a white male professor. At the time, 94% of the school’s 19 deans were White; one dean was Latino. Alozie intended to challenge the systematic exclusion of diverse candidates by ASU through his lawsuit.

The jury awarded Alozie $357,000, finding ASU retaliated against Alozie based on his critical statements during the interview process. The judge reduced the award to Title VII’s statutory cap of $300,000. The University disagreed with the verdict but stated the University did agree with Alozie on the importance of increasing efforts to hire and retain diverse candidates. Alozie told reporters that ASU has hired more Black professors in recent years but still has work to do. ASU is seeking to set aside the verdict.