(WNCN) DURHAM, N.C. –A trio of state and federal lawsuits accuse the chancellor of North Carolina Central University, along with the head of the School of Business, of intimidation, retaliation and systemic, widespread racism.
The complaints also allege the UNC Board of Governors was made aware of the issues but did not act to stop it.
Two former NCCU business school faculty members, Marianne Murphy and Frank Smith, filed separate federal lawsuits against the historically-black university and the UNC Board of Governors.
Murphy and Smith accuse NCCU School of Business Dean Wanda Lester of discriminating against them because they are not African-American.
The complaint said Smith, who is Caucasian, was fired because of his race in May 2014.
Murphy left in 2014 after teaching in the business school for seven years.
During that time, Murphy, who is Cuban-American, said she was passed over for a promotion, despite her superior qualifications.
She also said she was paid tens of thousands of dollars less than African-American faculty members with inferior qualifications.
In the complaint, Murphy even accuses Chief Human Resources Director Linc Butler of acknowledging in April 2014 that, “Dr. Murphy’s complaint was valid and that she was owed tens of thousands of dollars.”
Murphy claims her complaints were never investigated and that she was never paid that money.
The complaint also alleges several other employees were harassed and forced out of their positions because of their race under the leadership of Chancellor Debra Saunders-White.
In a third complaint filed in Durham County Superior Court, Saunders-White’s former chief of staff, Kimberly Luse, accuses the chancellor of misusing university funds for her own personal meals, entertainment and home exercise equipment.
Luse said she reported the misuse to human resources.
Luse also claims Saunders-White created a racially hostile working environment, stating that between July 2013 and January 2014, Saunders-White advised her that, as a Caucasian female, Luse “could never understand the environment at a historically black college like NCCU and that the only two things NCCU was really about were ‘chicken and p****,'” referring to female genitalia.
Luse was terminated in January 2014, the complaint says, without notice and was replaced by John Smith, an African-American who had previously retired from NCCU.
Murphy and other faculty members took their complaints to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which conducted a fact-finding conference in March.
The commission found that there was a right to sue.
“We want to give power to people who’ve been treated unfairly regardless of their race,” Noble Law Firm attorney Nick Sanservino said, “And in my years of practice…I’ve not seen too many cases with some of the facts involved here, in terms of the systemic issues.”
Tuesday night, NCCU spokeswoman Ayana Hernandez denied the allegations saying, “The University disagrees with and plans to vigorously and aggressively defend itself against the numerous unfounded allegations contained in the complaints. NCCU will not allow such claims to deter us from our mission of providing students with a high quality education in a culturally diverse and enriching environment.”
This article originally appeared on WNCN By Derick Waller