Court Case: Paula Maggio v. Kent State University

Case Adopted 02/05

Case Update (02/06):
At the federal court’s request, Maggio’s trial has been postponed to April 10, 2006.

Case History

Paula Maggio, former public relations/marketing coordinator at Kent State University (KSU), was terminated and sued the university for sex discrimination and retaliation for complaining about sex discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

KSU hired Maggio in January 1999 as the assistant to the dean of libraries and media services. In February 2000, she was transferred internally to the university communications and marketing unit (UCM). In her new unit, Maggio assumed the title of marketing associate and later public relations/marketing coordinator, which she held until her termination in October 2001. She states that while with UCM, she maintained an excellent work record and her work helped KSU win several marketing and advertising awards.

In August 2001, a woman was hired as the new director of UCM. Maggio alleges that shortly thereafter, the director — who was her immediate supervisor — began to treat her differently than her male colleagues. For example, Maggio asserts that her supervisor subjected her to an inordinate amount of criticism and gave her more work than her male colleagues; in addition, she claims that her supervisor did not discipline these male colleagues for failing to complete assignments, though Maggio was disciplined for similar incidents.

In the beginning of October 2001, Maggio brought her complaints of sex discrimination to the vice president of UCM while the director was out on sick leave. She alleges that the vice president stated he would set up a meeting to discuss the issue following the director’s return. However, after the director returned from sick leave, no meeting was scheduled. Instead, approximately one week following the director’s return, the vice president told Maggio that she would be terminated and gave her a 90-day paid notice. Maggio claims that shortly after she was terminated, a younger, less qualified male was selected for a position with the same title and description as hers. Following her termination, Maggio — an at-will employee — filed a written grievance with the university to appeal her termination and request a hearing. At all stages, the university denied her appeal, stating that the grievance process is not applicable to terminations of at-will employees.

Maggio filed a complaint in federal court in February 2003. In July 2004, the court denied the university’s motion for summary judgment.

Key Issues

Sex discrimination and retaliation for complaining about sex discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.