Former WPU Employee Sues School for Wrongful Demotion


Althea Hylton-Lindsay, a former William Paterson University department chairwoman, has filed a lawsuit against the school for wrongful demotion.

In the lawsuit filed Dec. 12, 2013 in Superior Court in Paterson, Hylton-Lindsay claims that she was removed from the position of chairwoman of the Department of Secondary and Middle School Education December 18, 2012 because she is black and a born-again Christian.

"In or around the summer of 2010, WPU hired Dr. Candace Burns to be dean of the College of Education. As soon as Dean Burns was hired, she discriminated against plaintiff because of her race (African-American) and religion (born-again Christian) and subjected plaintiff to harassment and disparate treatment. Hylton-Lindsay "has suffered both physically, emotionally and psychologically," according to the suit, North Jersey reports.

The lawsuit accuses Burns of constantly keeping a watch on Hylton-Lindsay. Burns had apparently accused her of displaying unprofessional and rebellious behavior repeatedly.

According to the lawsuit, at one instance, Burns questioned Hylton-Lindsay's hair style and described it as a 'natural afro.' In another instance, Hylton-Lindsay tried to soothe Burns' secretary with a prayer after she was yelled at by the dean. When police questioned the source of the loud screaming, Burns allegedly pointed at Hylton-Lindsay and said, 'You were praying.'

The suit alleges that Burns called the police when she noticed the plaintiff praying along with the secretary.

When Hylton-Lindsay filed formal harassment charges, Edward Weil, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs asked her to voluntarily resign and threatened her of demotion if she didn't oblige.

At the time, the reason for her removal was mentioned as 'insubordination and inappropriate and unprofessional communication with Dean Burns.'

Through the lawsuit, Hylton-Lindsay is seeking compensatory damages for causing emotional distress, a violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination and other civil counts.

Hylton-Lindsay, who served in the position of chairperson since September 2009, was also a professor at the University 19 years.

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