Another NCCU professor alleges racial discrimination
Posted June 29, 2015
Updated June 30, 2015
Durham, N.C. — A North Carolina Central University professor on Monday accused school administrators of punishing him because he wouldn't discriminate against non-blacks at the historically black university.
James Pearce, director of graduate studies in the Department of Language and Literature, filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, is the fifth current or former N.C. Central employee to allege racial problems at the Durham school.
Pearce's complaint states that he applied to be chairman of the department in December but lost to a less-qualified female candidate. He argues that his gender and retaliation by administrators were factors in that decision.
"Retaliation was certainly a big part of this," he said Monday.
The EEOC lists retaliation as a form of discrimination.
Pearce said N.C. Central leaders were bothered by his refusal to consider race when making decisions.
"I've reprimanded people, hired people, fired people without any regard to the color of their skin," he said.
He said he was able to speak publicly about his claims because he has tenure – a status he said he was able to obtain only because he filed another EEOC report in 2010.
The only other current N.C. Central employee alleging discrimination has been placed on an unpaid leave of absence, according to her attorneys.
Nick Sanservino, a lawyer representing three former N.C. Central employees, said all of those making claims of discrimination just want to see change on the campus.
"It goes around in a circle, and nothing is done about it," Sanservino said. "It does go to the larger issue of systemic conduct, and that is where our goals coincide."
N.C. Central officials have said the discrimination claims – as well as accusations in previous lawsuits of misuse of funds by Chancellor Debra Saunders-White – are unfounded.
Joni Worthington, a spokeswoman for University of North Carolina system administrators, said none of the allegations have been substantiated in court, and she criticized the plaintiffs' attorneys for attempting to try the case in the media.
"NCCU and the UNC Board of Governors will vigorously respond to and defend against the claims made by these individuals in the appropriate forum: the courts or administrative tribunals in which they are pending, and not in the media," Worthington said in an email to WRAL News. "We look forward to carefully examining what proof, if any, there is to support each claim in the manner required by our court system."