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VCU School of Social Work Professor Sues University for Discrimination

Dr. Muthoni Imungi, a professor in Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Social Work, is suing the university for discrimination, alleging she was demoted because she is Black and was born in Kenya, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.Vcu

The Times-Dispatch reported that Imungi was removed from her role as the School of Social Work’s director of field education in June 2020 and placed in a teaching role with a lower salary, according to the lawsuit, which was filed last month in federal court. She still works at VCU as a full-time professor in the School of Social Work.

Imungi alleges race and national origin discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. She is suing for financial loss, mental anguish, and damage to her career and reputation. She is demanding at least $75,000 and has requested a jury trial.

Imungi joined the school as field education director in 2016. According to the Times-Dispatch, after Imungi began changing the field education program, her employees became unhappy, with some asking that they no longer report to her, the suit alleges.

VCU then hired Dr. Beth Angell in 2018 as permanent dean of the School of Social Work. She received and was open to complaints about Imungi, the suit alleges. In fall 2019, Imungi reported she felt she was being treated differently than other employees. Angell suggested Imungi resign, the lawsuit states.

The Times-Dispatch reported that months later, a faculty member in the school used a racial slur during class and someone vandalized a banner in the department that read “Black history is American history.” Imungi alleged in her filing that she was excluded from department meetings after speaking out about her hardships.

In June 2020, Angell and an associate dean told Imungi that she was being removed from her role because she “was not a good fit,” according to the Times-Dispatch reporting on the lawsuit. Imungi was given a teaching position which did not include her former $10,000 annual administrative supplement.

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