Nine Former Workers Sue Auburn University, Allege Discrimination

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Nine workers in the Auburn University athletic department who were laid off or reassigned filed a federal lawsuit Thursday accusing the school of racial discrimination.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court. Seven of the former custodial workers were laid off last May. Two others were moved to another department during a reorganization after Auburn moved from Beard-Eaves Coliseum to the smaller, new Auburn Arena, the lawsuit said.

Ten of the 11 employees who lost their jobs in the athletic department were Black, according to the lawsuit, which said that only one Black employee who wasn’t a coach moved to the new building.

University spokesman Mike Clardy says university attorneys cannot comment because they have not seen the lawsuit.

The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages, court costs and restoration of their jobs with back pay and benefits.

The lawsuit alleges discrimination against them in receiving promotions and in their pay level compared to White employees, who also allegedly were allowed more overtime than Black employees. But the complaints also range from a receptionist not forwarding email to a Black employee and the allocation of football tickets.

All the employees filed complaints against Auburn with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last June, according to the lawsuit.

Plaintiff Curtis Chandler Jr., who has worked for Auburn for 17 years, became the athletic department’s maintenance superintendent in 2000 but was transferred last October to the Student Activities Center. He contends he has been harassed in retaliation for his EEOC complaint.

The lawsuit also said Chandler was not interviewed for a supervisor’s position at the new arena, which went to a White employee with no supervisory experience.