Court Case: Nail v. Southwestern Oklahoma State University, et al.

Case History

Jenifer Nail, an adjunct instructor of computer science at Southwestern Oklahoma State University, sued the university for sex discrimination in the hiring process, and retaliation for complaining of sex discrimination, in violation of Title VII and Title IX.

Nail began working as a computer programmer at the university in 1984. In 1990, she began teaching computer sciences courses at the university on a part-time basis. Nail applied for a full-time instructor position within the computer science department in 2001. The university interviewed both Nail and a male applicant for the position. The faculty search committee unanimously chose Nail for the position. However, the acting chair of the department vetoed the committee’s choice. Ultimately, the male applicant was offered the position.

Nail alleges that she was substantially more qualified than the male candidate. For instance, Nail possessed a bachelor’s degree in computer science, whereas the male applicant did not. She also had twice the amount of commendable service time as an instructor of computer science. Furthermore, Nail alleges that prior to a selection being made, the acting chair told a search committee member that he was concerned with the amount of responsibility Nail had in raising her young children. Nail believes that university officials retaliated against her for registering her complaints of sex discrimination in the hiring process and subsequently filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and a lawsuit in federal court.

Following an investigation of Nail’s allegations, the EEOC found reasonable cause to believe that Nail had been subjected to sex discrimination in the hiring process. Despite the EEOC’s determination, conciliation efforts between Nail and the university proved unsuccessful, and Nail filed her complaint in federal court in 2003. In Spring 2004 she reached a confidential settlement with the university.

Key Issue

Sex discrimination in the hiring process, and retaliation for complaining about sex discrimination, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.