Former Penn State Associate Professor Sues University for Alleged Human Rights Abuse | Crime and courts



A former Penn State associate professor of earth and mineral sciences filed a lawsuit against the university on Monday on seven counts of human rights violations and gender discrimination.

Jeffery Brownson has been denied tenure on “entirely pretextual” grounds, according to a lawsuit filed in Eastern Pennsylvania District Court. Brownson is a transgender person who has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, according to the report.

Brownson says their unfair dismissal “effectively destroyed” their careers.

The lawsuit alleges that Brownson’s termination violated their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act and violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act for sex discrimination.

The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities by employers. Gender dysphoria is a disability that “dramatically impairs one or more major life activities,” according to the lawsuit.

Brownson, who joined the Faculty of Graduate Studies in 2007 and became an associate professor in 2013, was reportedly refused tenure in March 2020 for being “weak in research,” according to the report.

The lawsuit says seven of the eight applicants who started at the same time as Brownson in 2007 obtained tenure, some of whom had done “a lot less” while working at the university.

The other non-tenured teacher, Yongsheng Chen, sued the school for racial discrimination in 2015.

While working at Penn State, Brownson had published 31 peer-reviewed journal articles – 10 as first author – as well as one book, according to the report.

Brownson is asking for a jury trial and monetary compensation, according to the report.


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