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Professor Files Lawsuit Against University of Illinois for Workplace Discrimination

Posted by Athena M. Herman | Aug 24, 2017 | 0 Comments

A multitude of studies shows that people are often biased against other individuals that are not within the confines of their own particular social group. This bias manifests emotionally, cognitively and behaviorally, invoking people to feel prejudice, deem stereotypes as reality and exhibit behavior that reflects their perceived notion of other social groups. This blatant display of bias, also known as discrimination, takes on many forms. However, whether it rears its ugly head due to another person's sex, race, age, sexual orientation or disability does not negate the fact that it should not occur in the workplace. Federal law affirms this notion by outright condemning discriminatory behavior in the workplace, and more importantly, granting victims the constitutional right to sue employers who they believe are subjecting them to discriminatory practices.

An international relations professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago has alleged harassment and discrimination based on his race and national origin by school authorities in a recent lawsuit. According to Choi's civil complaint, he was forced to teach a Korean politics class by the political science department at the school despite not having prior knowledge of the subject. He claims that he had to take additional amounts of time to teach himself the ins and outs of Korean politics through newspapers and textbooks he read on campus.

“Since I was raised in Korea, the department said I should know Korean politics very well,” Choi said. “We are professors, we specialize in specific things. You don't ask someone to teach American politics because they are American. So me having to teach Korean politics because I am from Korea is actually ridiculous.”

His lawsuit also claims that he was given the task of teaching statistics, a subject he also was not suitable to teach, for a period of time due to school authorities telling him that ‘Asians,' specifically Koreans are supposed to be good at mathematics and statistics.

This is just one of several allegations made by South Korean native Seung-Whan Choi over the course of a decade. A prior case that he filed against the University was settled in 2011 because of its refusal to grant the professor his tenure. Since then, he claims that the university has been trying desperately to make him leave. On three occasions, Choi was refused prestigious offers to outside jobs - an action that violates the university's policy. He claims that he is excluded from department meetings despite the fact that he is the only international relations expert in the department.

Choi is seeking damages for suffering depression, severe anxiety, reputational damage, shameful embarrassment and high blood pressure as a result of the treatment of his co-workers. He is also seeking back pay, future earnings, and reimbursements for income owed to him by the university.

Experienced Illinois Employment Law Attorneys

If you have been subjected to discriminatory practices by your employer in Illinois, you should consult with a knowledgeable attorney. Contact the legal professionals at our firm today for a consultation.

About the Author

Athena M. Herman

Athena M. Herman practices in the areas of employment discrimination law, general employment law, and civil rights law...


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Practice Areas

Workers’ Compensation
Motor Vehicle Accident
Family Law/Dissolution
Personal Injury/Nursing Home Negligence/Medical Malpractice
Sexual Harassment and Hostile Work Environment

Practice Areas

Employment Discrimination
Retaliation claims and Whistleblower in the Workplace
Class Action Lawsuit and Multi-Plaintiff Cases
Civil Rights Litigation
Employment Law