MCAD Orders Promotion of Professor in Racial and Gender Discrimination and Retaliation Case

Jun 24, 2011

The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, (“MCAD”) has found in favor of Lulu Sun, an Associate professor of English,  on her claim that her employer,  the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth denied her a promotion to full professor on the basis of her gender, race and Chinese ancestry (gender and racial discrimination).   The hearing officer considered whether Professor Sun was treated differently from similarly-situated qualified professors who were not in her protected class concerning her gender, race and ancestry.   In ruling on the racial and gender discrimination claim,  the MCAD hearing officer found that the decision makers at the University of Massachusetts,  Dartmouth “held her to different and higher standards than those applied to her counterparts who were not Asian females.”

Professor Sun further alleged that her employer retaliated against her after she (1) refused to withdraw her application for the promotion; (2) wrote a memorandum to the Humanities Academic Council in which she asserted that the Dean’s evaluation of her teaching, advising and scholarship was “selective at best and discriminatory and arbitrary at worst;” and (3) filed a series of discrimination charges with the MCAD beginning in March of 2005.  She alleged that following this activity the Dean took away her yearly course releases, the Provost denied her a travel grant and the administration denied her promotion.  The hearing officer found that the university retaliated against her for conducting these activities and that it applied different and more rigorous standards to her application for a promotion after she filed a discrimination charge with the MCAD.

The case is noteworthy because the MCAD ordered the University of Massachusetts to promote Associate Professor Sun to the rank of Full Professor.   After finding liability on the gender and racial discrimination and retaliation claims, the hearing officer also ordered the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth to pay Professor Sun $154,503.30 in lost wages and $200,000 in emotional distress damages.   The MCAD also assessed a $10,000 civil penalty against the university.

Employees who may have a claim in Massachusetts for racial or gender discrimination and/or retaliation should know that there is a short time frame for filing claims.  Although we can not give individual legal advice through this blog, if you would like to speak to an attorney concerning your employment, please call Attorney Maura Greene, Law Office of Maura Greene, LLC, Six Beacon Street, Suite 205, Boston, MA  02108 at 617-936-1580 or

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