Ex-Professor accuses major West Virginia University of racial discrimination

West Virginia – Dr. Wei-ping Zeng, a former professor at Marshall University, has accused the medical school of racial discrimination in its tenure process. Dr. Zeng has alleged the school refused to grant him tenure despite granting tenure to newer professors, with less experience who are also white. His complaint states that the university held its Asian professors to a higher standard than its white faculty. Further, he stated after he filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) the University retaliated against him.

Dr. Zeng was an associate professor in Marshall’s department of biochemistry and microbiology. He is a naturalized citizen from China, he started at the school in September 2009. Before he was denied tenure, Dr. Zeng said he felt some indications of discrimination from other faculty members but he was never quit sure. Dr. Zeng says he didn’t realize what was happening immediately. He had applied for tenure in October of 2015 and was denied in April the next year. In the year prior, Zeng said his teaching evaluation scores were higher than the two whites professors who started after him. Zeng also asserts that he published more research than the same two white professors. One of the professors won the school’s Distinguished Scholar Award twice, while the other won the advanced merit award.

The dean of Marshall’s medical school, Dr. Josephs Shapiro, told Zeng that he would not recommend him to the president for tenure. Shapiro further told Zeng that he could work through 2017 if he would withdraw his complaint. The school has not commented on the incident. The school maintains that the decision was purely job related. Marshall is confident that they will prevail if the matter is litigated.

Zeng initially filed a complaint with the EEOC. The EEOC declined to pick up Zeng’s claim because during its investigation the EEOC did not find enough evidence that Marshall had violated any statutes. The EEOC still issued Zeng a “right to sue” letter that grants Zeng the right to pursue his claims in federal court. Zeng proceeded with is suit on his own without an attorney.

The EEOC is an administrative agency tasked with handling claims of discrimination and sexual harassment. The process starts as soon as the most recent incident of discrimination or harassment. You have 90 days from the last incident to report your claim to the EEOC. Once your claim is filed, the EEOC will investigate your claim and within 180 days will issue you one of three letters: (i) a letter stating they will help litigate your claim; (ii) a “right to sue letter”; or (iii) a finding of no probable cause. In the first case, the EEOC will litigate your claim for you, with the hope of settling the matter at mediation. In the second case, the EEOC does not pick up your claim but issues you a letter giving you the right to sue your employer in federal court. In the last case, the EEOC did not find any evidence of discrimination and your claim stops there.

The experienced New York Race Discrimination attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC have years of experience working with the EEOC, bringing claims in federal court and working with EEOC attorneys to mediate the matters. Our experienced race discrimination attorneys have recovered millions for our clients who have experienced racial discrimination in the workplace. If you feel you have been discriminated against int he workplace, pleas give our talented attorneys a call, toll free, at 1-877-4NYLAWS.


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