BSU Faces Discrimination Lawsuit

Bridgewater State University recently faced a race and employment discrimination lawsuit. After licensed social worker, Donna Johnston (She/Her), from Plainfield, CT, was denied a faculty position after being interviewed for the position at the university, she claimed that she was not given the job because she was white.

When asked to comment, Dr. Karim Ismaili (He/Him) said, “BSU cannot speak to the specifics of any case involving pending litigation. However, the University is very confident in the fairness of its hiring process and the outcome of this search.”

During her interview, Johnston was asked to contemplate how her identity would affect how she was able to relate to minority students. At the university, it is common practice for students to be asked to contemplate how their identities will affect different aspects of their career as a social worker. In the field of social work, it is common and important to be able to acknowledge how your identity and privilege would affect your work.

According to The Boston Globe, Johnston’s Lawyer, Scott Lathrop, stated, “If somebody had said to a Black applicant, let’s talk about your Blackness, or how does your Blackness affect something, there’d be outrage.”

Jeff Strohl, the director of research at Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, stated that though there is no thorough study on what may be asked by universities on the topic of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity, the question that was asked could have been phrased to be less misleading.

In a statement the university filed with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, the university stated, “Any possibility of discriminatory motive is contradicted by the fact that the university ultimately hired two Caucasians.”

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