Sun v. University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth

Case Adopted 12/10

Case Update (7/14)
In May 2014, the Massachusetts Commission against Discrimination (MCAD) upheld a ruling in favor of Lulu Sun in her gender and race discrimination case against the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. In June 2011 an MCAD hearing officer concluded that the university had violated Massachusetts’ anti-discrimination laws and ordered the university to 1) promote Sun, with retroactive back pay, 2) pay $200,000 in emotional distress damages, plus 12 percent interest from the date the complaint was filed, 3) pay the commonwealth of Massachusetts a $10,000 civil penalty, and 4) conduct an anti-discrimination training for its human resources staff, the dean of the UMass Dartmouth College of Arts and Sciences, the provost, and the chancellor.

After the June 2011 decision, the university promoted Sun to the position of full professor but appealed the emotional distress award, the civil penalty, and the anti-discriminatory training requirements to the full commission. In its most recent ruling the commission upheld the MCAD hearing officer’s decision, ordering the university to pay the emotional distress damages award and civil penalty and to conduct anti-discrimination training.

The university conceded any further appeal, meaning that the MCAD’s ruling in Sun’s favor will stand. We are proud to have supported Sun’s case and congratulate her on this final ruling.

Case Background

Lulu Sun, an English professor, alleged sex and race discrimination in the promotion process at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. Sun filed charges with the Massachusetts Commission against Discrimination (MCAD), which found probable cause for a case claiming discrimination based on gender, race, and national origin as well as subsequent retaliation. Sun sought a promotion and damages for these injustices in addition to an order from the MCAD that the university administration must undertake training in diversity and anti-discrimination and actively recruit and promote women faculty, especially women of color.

The public hearing was held in December, 2010 and January, 2011. AAUW offered financial support to the case.