Profs to file suit against U for $100,000

Two University Chinese professors plan to file suit against the University for alleged discrimination against them and the Department of East Asian Languages, Literatures, & Linguistics.
Professors Yu-Shih Chen and Stephen Wang claim the University did not provide enough educators to support the students in the program and that Wang gets paid less than the most junior person in the program, said Judy Schermer, the professors’ attorney.
The program’s problems came to a head last year when students staged a hunger strike outside of University President Mark Yudof’s office to voice their displeasure with how the University allegedly was neglecting the program.
The suit, which was served to the University on Friday, asks for monetary damages in excess of $100,000. It also seeks an injunction to force the University to remedy the alleged discrimination.
University General Counsel Mark Rotenberg said he could not comment on the merits of the case because he has not had a chance to review it.
Schermer said because the program was so understaffed, Chen did not take a sabbatical and worked for 45 months straight. She added that as a result, Chen, the chair of the program, was not afforded the time to do the research and writing that is expected from a full-tenured professor.
Stress from the job caused medical problems for Chen, Schermer said. Wang put off his retirement to help work on the program. Schermer added that Wang’s pension is based on his salary, which, because he is allegedly being paid less than he should, will contribute to future loss of earnings.
College of Liberal Arts Dean Steven Rosenstone would not comment on problems within the program because of the lawsuit.
“These two are some of the most dedicated people I know,” Schermer said. Chen came to the University with the intention of building a world class Chinese program, Schermer said.
And Schermer said Chen did just that, but because of turmoil in the program, other prestigious universities are picking up graduates of the program who should have stayed at the University, she said.
The complaint states Chen tried to resolve the problems at the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action but couldn’t get anything done.