Discrimination or Non-Performance?
Dr. George Annan was hired as an assistant professor at Northern Plains University (NPU) in August of 2003. He was born in Kenya, Africa, and was of African descent. NPU was a predominantly white institution, and he joined a small department with faculty consisting of three additional men and one woman - all white, and with varying ranks from instructor to associate professor. Although initially evaluated as having achieved the level of performance "reasonably expected in an Assistant Professor," subsequent evaluations were increasingly negative, and he was informed that his performance did not meet the expectations required of faculty at NPU. His contract was terminated at the end of his second year. Department Head Mary Reed believed that she had provided adequate feedback and support so that this outcome could have been avoided - if he had listened to her. Annan contended that he was treated unfairly by being assigned introductory level classes that wasted his talents as a Ph.D., and because he was an African man surrounded by a predominantly white faculty and student body. He was threatening to sue NPU for discrimination. Although Department Head Reed felt that Annan had largely ignored her advice on how to improve his performance, she knew that she needed to prepare evidence to defend NPU in case Annan decided to pursue legal action. Her primary concern was that Annan would allege discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, claiming he was discriminated against on the basis of race.