As the Cal Poly campus was rocked by discussions about race, gender, and equality from students, a former assistant professor accused the university of sexism and discrimination.
Former business assistant professor Alison Mackey filed a lawsuit against Cal Poly, claiming that she was passed up for tenure because she was pregnant and because of her religion.
According to the suit, filed in San Luis Obispo County Court, Mackey was a pregnant mother of two children with autism and a member of the Mormon Church when she was first evaluated for tenure at the university in 2012. The suit states that Mackey had been teaching for five years at the college and was “overwhelmingly qualified.”
Mackey’s potential tenure was first considered by a peer review board. But, according to the suit, Mackey notified her department head of her pregnancy prior to the review, and the information that she was pregnant made it to the committee, biasing them against her. The lawsuit also states the fact that Mackey was already the mother of two developmentally disabled children only compounded the issue.
“The frequency with which people express concern about the potential that I will need to expend unusual time and resources caring for a third child with a developmental disability suggests that it is entirely plausible that these concerns were in the tenure and promotion decision meeting,” the suit states.
The lawsuit further alleged that Mackey’s Mormon religion also soured the committee against granting her tenure, charging that committee members suggested that she would continue to have disabled children because of her membership in the LDS church.
The committee didn’t recommend Mackey for tenure. A second peer group, as well as administrative higher-ups, also failed to grant her tenure.
In a written statement, the university disputed Mackey’s claims.
“After careful consideration at all levels, it was determined that Dr. Mackey did not demonstrate a record of achievement worthy of tenure, as is required of all tenure-track faculty, regardless of their personal characteristics,” the statement read.