Life University & EEOC Request Court Annexed Mediation in Race Discrimination and Retaliation Lawsuit

News Staff
Life University & EEOC Request Court Annexed Mediation in Race Discrimination and Retaliation Lawsuit

Black Employees were Targeted for Discipline Because of Their Race, Then Fired for Complaining About Discrimination, Federal Agency Charges

In August 2017 Life University was charged in a lawsuit by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) of violating federal law when it treated two black employees differently because of their race and then fired them for complaining about the discrimination.

According to the EEOC such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Life University Inc., Civil Action No. 1:17-cv-3121) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC is seeking back pay, compensatory and punitive damages for Williams and Thomas, as well as injunctive relief designed to prevent such discrimination in the future.

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On March 29, 2018 the attorneys for both the EEOC and Life University requested that Judge J. Clay Fuller refer the case to court annexed mediation and both parties requested a stay of the case pending the outcome of the mediation.

Accusations of racial discrimination have been simmering on Life's campus for some time now and according to faculty there the institution is suddenly doing a number of things to "diversify" the campus community though these faculty state its a little too late for that.

In a resignation letter to Human Resources in January 2016 one former administrative employee cited " . . . systemic and widespread favoritism, inconsistencies in our execution of policy, considerable biases, and sadly, racial disparity in the decision making and tangible employment practices such as hiring, promotions, pay, performance appraisals and terminations at this university."

Another current adminstrator at Life in a grievance letter circulated among faculty and staff cited "favoritism and racism" and even included how the "faces" of the Board of Trustees "look the same". Thirteen of the sixteen members of the Board of Trustees are white males. She went on to state: "Its like this University is in the business of using people to get what they want and then moving on once they have it."

Life University has been struggling in the wake of numerous scandals involving the treatment of faculty, students and administrators as well as its academic and financial management.

In July 2017 the Council on Chiropractic Education met and reviewed several reports related to a February 1, 2017 Interim Site Team Visit and on August 2, 2017, the Doctor of Chiropractic Program at Life University received a written response from the CCE regarding its ongoing concerns related to its graduation rates and evidence for student learning outcomes. The accreditation issues added to a growing number of concerns among supporters of the school about its management and direction.

Last year Life University refinanced its $67,000,000.00 bond obligations in order to build housing for its struggling undergraduate program. Life needs to grow the undergraduate program in order to boost enrollment and show its creditors that it has diversified its sources of income beyond the chiropractic program. Overall enrollment in the chiropractic program at Life has been declining for some time now and administrators are placing all their bets on the hopes of increasing enrollment in the undergrad programs to offset losses from the DC college.

The recent refinancing of the bond debt came with the addition of another $30,000,000.00 in debt to pay for the housing, bringing the total debt to nearly $100,000,000.00 (one hundred million dollars). According to Moody's Investors Service, they had already downgraded the bond rating to Ba3. According to Moody’s, a Ba3 indicates a “substantial credit risk” with this rating indicating the lowest end of the category just above junk bond status.