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Press Release 07-31-2014

EEOC Sues City Colleges for Age Discrimination

Federal Agency Says College Refused To Hire Adjunct Professor for Full-time Position Because of Her Age

CHICAGO-- Harold Washington College, part of the City Colleges of Chicago system, violated federal law when it refused to hire a woman due to her age, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today in federal court in Chicago 

According to the complaint, Harold Washington College refused to hire Nancy Sullivan, an adjunct professor, for a full-time faculty position because of her age--66.  

EEOC District Director John Rowe, who supervised the EEOC's administrative investigation, said that it revealed Sullivan had worked as an adjunct professor in the English Department at Harold Washington College for five years before applying for the full-time faculty position.  

"What we discovered was that Sullivan had the credentials, had compiled an excellent record during her tenure as an adjunct and had enthusiastic recommendations from several full-time members of the faculty. She looked like a perfect fit for the job, yet was passed over in favor of younger, less-experienced candidates. That's age discrimination," said Rowe.

John Hendrickson, EEOC regional attorney in Chicago said, "Colleges and universities have long occupied a highly regarded place in this country and enjoyed a special status, but they are not above the law. When they factor age into employment decisions and deny adjuncts and others opportunities because of their age, that is a violation of federal law, and the institutions are going to be held accountable."

Such alleged conduct violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act     which prohibits discriminating against employees and applicants due to their age (40 and above).  The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.  The case, EEOC v. City Colleges of Chicago d/b/a Harold Washington College, Civil Action No. 1:14-cv-05864, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago and assigned to Judge Sara L. Ellis.  Supervisory Trial Attorney Gregory Gochanour and Trial Attorney Laurie Elkin will lead the agency's litigation team.

Harold Washington College, named for the first African American mayor of Chicago, is one of seven campuses of the City Colleges.  The college has an enrollment of nearly 14,000 students and focuses on business, entrepreneurship, and professional services.

The EEOC's Chicago District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and North and South Dakota, with area offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination.  Further information is available on its website