Tri-C professors file lawsuit alleging retaliation after 19 News report

Published: Nov. 28, 2022 at 2:52 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - According to a news release, two professors filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Cuyahoga Community College and the former president, deans, and administrators for alleged retaliation.

Professors Diane Gatson and Linda Lanier’s complaint alleges that President Alex Johnson began a campaign of retaliation against them for their participation in a report with 19 News.

Gatson and Lanier spoke out about the college’s practices, including that Tri-C was offering fewer in-person courses on its Metropolitan campus than on its suburban campuses.

The Metropolitan campus has the highest concentration of African-American students.

According to a news release, after the 19 News interview aired, President Johnson used a special virtual town hall meeting to publicly chastise professors Gaston and Lanier.

Gatson and Lanier are also alleging that President Johnson continued to retaliate against them by:

  • Cutting off workplace communication with them
  • Disparaging them to co-workers
  • Subjecting them to unfavorable working conditions
  • Denying them opportunities for professional development

Gaston and Lanier filed a First Amendment, Title VI, and Title VII employment-retaliation lawsuit against the following people:

  • Tri-C’s former-President Alex Johnson
  • Metropolitan Campus President Denise McCory
  • Assistant Dean Terry Webb
  • Associate Dean Courtney Clarke
  • Dean Amy Parks
  • Executive Vice President of Administration and Finance David Kuntz
  • Employee-Relations Manager Shari Brazile

We reached out to Tri-C for comment. They sent us a statement back reading, “Cuyahoga Community College denies any retaliation by anyone at the college as alleged in the complaint. Given that this matter is part of ongoing litigation, we will not have further comment at this time.”