Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigating CMU for discrimination claim

Journalism Department faculty members will have to go through sensitivity training in the fall after a faculty member filed a discrimination complaint against three other faculty members.

Sara Kubik, an assistant professor in the journalism department, filed the complaint with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Central Michigan University.

Kubik initially filed a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights and Institutional Equity at CMU in October 2013. Kubik said she experienced “gender-sex and pregnancy discrimination, familial discrimination and past and present harassment.”

In the original complaint, Kubik said three members of the department created a hostile work environment, including former Journalism Department Chair Maria Marron.

Kubik argued that her reappointment as a tenure-track faculty member and tenure clock extension were denied because of her pregnancy during the 2012-13 academic year. Allegations of harassment date back to spring 2013, according to an April 4 resolution from the Office of Civil Rights and Institutional Equity.

According to the resolution, Kubik’s request for the extension did not pass in May 2013. Her reappointment was also denied three times by the journalism personnel committee. After appealing twice, Kubik was informed in December 2013 she had been reappointed for the 2015-16 academic year.

The office concluded that “Marron’s actions do rise to a level of prohibited conduct with respect to Kubik’s pregnancy and (maternity) leave and return to work. While Marron denied harassing or discriminating against Kubik, the facts suggest otherwise. Marron did create an unwelcome and hostile environment within the Central Michigan University community.”

However, the office said Marron was right in her conduct considering Kubik’s tenure clock and reappointment.

“In particular, the language used by Marron in the personnel committee’s recommendation suggests that Kubik brought up the issue of her pregnancy to explain why her teaching and service were not up to par for the year,” the resolution reads. “The comments concerning Kubik’s reappointment related to service, research and teaching ability — not her pregnancy.”

Marron is no longer the department chair or with CMU. She accepted a job at the University of Nebraska-Lincolnas dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communications in January.

Administrators at UNL told the Daily Nebraskan that they stand behind their decision to hire Marron despite the allegations against her.

“(Marron is) an academic leader who treats others with respect and is unbiased and transparent with her colleagues,” Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Ellen Weissinger told the Daily Nebraskan in May. “It was clear that she was well regarded on campus and nationally as an academic and as a person. I have nothing in front of me to make me think otherwise.”

An investigation of the April 18 complaint is currently open. It is a dual investigation of CMU between the EEOC and the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.

Angelique Moreno, the EEOC investigator assigned to the complaint, told Central Michigan Life in an email, “I can not discuss any case with you, based on my legal obligations.” 

There is no set date for when the journalism department will go through sensitivity training.

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