A former Vanderbilt University assistant professor is suing the school and one if its department heads, alleging he was denied tenure and fired because of his race.
Luoyu Roy Xu — an Asian American who worked in Vanderbilt’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering for nine years — filed suit in Middle Tennessee District Court last week, charging violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1886, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Tennessee Human Rights Act, as well as breach of contract.
In the 30-page complaint, available here, Xu argues that the chair of his department, David S. Kosson, intentionally discriminated against Xu by presenting to the engineering school's dean inaccurate and incomplete information about his teaching performance and service, leading to the denial of his tenure application and subsequent dismissal from Vanderbilt.
The claim asserts that none of the four non-Caucasian tenure track faculty who joined the department during Kosson’s term are still employed by the university, while the two “equally or less qualified” Caucasian tenure-track faculty who joined during that period were “mentored and groomed for tenure and promotion” by Kosson.
According to the complaint, being denied tenure and a promotion robbed Xu of a higher salary and benefits and damaged his career and reputation, making it harder for him to find a job at comparable university. He had to start over in the tenure process with his current employer, the University of Texas at El Paso.
Xu is seeking a jury trial and damages for lost back pay, lost benefits, future wages and benefits, as well as non-economic damages for emotional distress, damage to his career and reputation, and personal humiliation, among other claims.
Xu is represented locally by Green Hills attorney Nanette J. Gould and the Florida firm of Henrichsen Siegel PLLC.
Vanderbilt declined to comment on the matter.