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February 3, 2000

Discrimination lawsuit against UPJ is dropped

Pitt officials have announced that a sexual and racial discrimination lawsuit against the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown (UPJ) and its president, filed in July 1998 by UPJ's then-director of affirmative action, was dropped late last year.

Clea Hollis had filed a three-count complaint in U.S. District Court accusing UPJ President Albert Etheridge of demeaning, belittling and unjustly demoting her and trying to deprive her of her constitutional rights and eliminate her as the campus's affirmative action director because she was black and a woman.

According to a UPJ news release, attorneys for Pitt and Hollis agreed to discontinue the case at the end of November 1999 after Hollis underwent three days of deposition questioning by University counsel.

Pitt Associate General Counsels Susan L. Wormer and Ted P. Fritz jointly issued the following written statement: "It was clear from discovery in the lawsuit that the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, particularly under Dr. Etheridge's leadership, has continuously and actively pursued a non-discrimination, equal opportunity and diversity-oriented agenda. Not only has Dr. Etheridge instituted a number of programs aimed at educating the campus about diversity and improving overall diversity, he, in fact, received commendation from the main campus in 1997 for his efforts."

Etheridge said, in a written statement, "We are pleased that the lawsuit has been discontinued with prejudice and look forward to moving into the new millennium with our ongoing diversity efforts."

"Discontinued with prejudice" means Hollis's lawsuit was dropped and she cannot refile it.

Hollis (who has since retired from UPJ) and her lawyer did not return phone calls from the University Times.

— Bruce Steele

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