Bellefonte woman files federal lawsuit against Penn State

A Bellefonte-area woman filed a federal lawsuit last week against Penn State, alleging the university’s former office of ethics and compliance chief discriminated against men and retaliated against her after reporting the allegations.

Denise Shivery has claimed she and other employees were ousted after filing complaints against former ethics and compliance officer Kenya Mann Faulker.

Faulker, who left college in March 2021 and was hired in November to take the same position at Emory University, was not listed as a defendant in the lawsuit. Penn State declined to comment through a spokesperson on Friday.

Shivery, who was hired in 2014 and worked as a compliance specialist before being fired, alleged that Faulker treated men in a “more hostile, humiliating and dismissive manner than she treated female employees”.

The university conducted an investigation, Shivery’s attorneys Stephen Console and Rahul Munshi wrote in the 36-page lawsuit, which found “no evidence of retaliation against her.”

David Gray, the university’s former vice president of finance and business, told a staff meeting that the two women had to “push the reset button,” according to the lawsuit. Shivery said she was not interviewed as part of the investigation.

The university, Shivery’s lawyers wrote, told her she was terminated due to restructuring. Shivery applied for two dozen other jobs, her attorneys wrote, but was not selected for any of the positions.

Shivery accused the university of violating federal and state laws that prohibit employment discrimination based on gender. She seeks unspecified damages.

The office that Faulker headed was created as part of the university’s response to the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. The department is responsible for ensuring compliance with all laws, as well as policies and guidelines.

Before coming to Happy Valley, Faulker worked as an inspector general in the administration of former Governor Tom Corbett. She also served as the first integrity officer for the state Treasury Department.

Penn State has yet to file a response to the lawsuit.

Bret Pallotto primarily reports on courts and crime for the Center Daily Times. He grew up in Mifflin County and graduated from Lock Haven University.

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