Former associate dean at MU med school sues university curators

7 months 7 hours 21 minutes ago Thursday, December 21 2017 Dec 21, 2017 Thursday, December 21, 2017 9:46:00 AM CST December 21, 2017 in News
By: Steve Lambson, News Content Manager

COLUMBIA - A former associate dean at the MU School of Medicine filed a discrimination lawsuit Tuesday against the school and the University of Missouri Board of Curators.

The suit accuses leaders in the School of Medicine of discriminatory practices toward her, including retaliation and age discrimination.

In her lawsuit, Rachel Brown said she was removed as associate dean on October 28, 2016 but learned as early as October 17 she would be replaced by Laine Young-Walker.

The lawsuit says Brown was increasingly excluded from meetings regarding diversity, and when she raised concerns about how to increase diversity in the School of Medicine, she was met with rude and aggressive opposition.

Brown claims Dean Patrice Lafontaine became more and more unresponsive to her requests related to Brown's responsibilities. She says she was purposefully and deliberately excluded from meetings on diversity with groups outside the School of Medicine, "despite the fact that decisions relating to diversity affected student programs that [Brown] administered."

With regards to her removal from the associate dean position, Brown said Lafontaine told her the impending removal wasn't based on her performance, and encouraged her to resign so as to frame "her exit as a recognition of achievement."

Instead, Brown claims, she learned she was being removed for "unspecified allegations of student mistreatment and lack of diversity at the school," which she says were not related to her performance as associate dean. According to Brown, she was never given any specifics about the alleged mistreatment and other deficiencies.

Brown said Lafontaine later "falsely communicated" that she had resigned as opposed to being removed.

Her replacement, Brown alleges, was motivated by race, and Lafontaine and others "succumbed to outside pressure in removing [her]...because she opposed race preferences that had not been reviewed by legal counsel for compliance with the civil rights laws."

Brown is seeking reinstatement to her position of Associate Dean, as well as back pay and general and punitive damages.

You can read Brown's lawsuit and allegations here.

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