The Maricopa County Community College District’s top officials are deciding whether to settle an employee’s lawsuit alleging administrators racially discriminated against her and concealed their misconduct.
At its meeting tonight, the district governing board is scheduled to consider paying Michelle Traveler, a computer programmer in the student affairs department, $50,000. Traveler filed a federal discrimination lawsuit in October 2005 accusing her bosses in the information technology services department of repeatedly denying her promotions, and even access to office equipment, because she is a black female.
The lawsuit also states that Traveler “has received disparate and retaliatory treatment based on her complaints of discriminatory treatment.”
In its response filed with the court, the district denied all of the lawsuit’s allegations.
It is unknown if MCCCD concedes any of Traveler’s claims in the settlement proposal.
Traveler, who continues to work at the district’s Tempe headquarters, said Monday that she signed a confidentiality agreement as part of the settlement. She declined to discuss the lawsuit or the settlement terms.
Chris Chesrown, a spokeswoman for the district, said she could not discuss the lawsuit until the governing board has approved a settlement.
In her lawsuit, Traveler said that she earned less than her peers, who were overwhelmingly white and male, for most of her 11 years with MCCCD. She contends the district promoted colleagues with less experience and training.
Several internal investigations were either biased against Traveler or were undermined by district technology officials, the lawsuit said. In June 2004, she alleges someone within MCCCD altered computer records to erase evidence that she had applied for a particular job.
“In order to do this, this person deleted (Traveler’s) entire … account and the account no longer works,” the lawsuit states.
Technology officials argue in their response that Traveler’s actions, not discrimination, stifled her career advancement.
Traveler “engaged in offensive and hostile actions, including inappropriate verbal discussions,” the district response said, “all of which created … an offensive and hostile working environment to peer employees and managers alike.”