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Auburn professor suing university, claiming discrimination

October 26, 2018

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — An Auburn University engineering professor is suing the public Alabama school, claiming a group of his colleagues discriminated against him because of his race and national origin, the Opelika-Auburn News reported Friday.

Joseph C. Majdalani filed a lawsuit last week in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama. He alleges several Caucasian co-workers refused to accept him as chair of the university’s Department of Aerospace Engineering, opposing his efforts, not respecting his authority, calling him slurs, excluding him from gatherings and important email chains, among other allegations.

The suit says Majdalani is Semitic, was born in Lebanon and is of Lebanese descent. He was naturalized as a U.S. citizen in 1995, it says.

Some of the defendants include the university, its Board of Trustees, university President Steven Leath, Engineering College Dean Christopher Roberts and Aerospace Engineering Department Chair Brian Thurow.

Majdalani was working as a tenured professor in advanced aerospace engineering at the University of Tennessee when he applied for and accepted the chair position for Auburn’s Aerospace Engineering Department in 2013.

According to the lawsuit, Majdalani was called to a meeting in 2016 with Roberts and told that some faculty weren’t happy with his management style. The dean gave him gave him two options, both of which resulted in him losing his chair position. Majdalani chose one and signed a resignation Roberts drafted.

The suit says that before Majdalani’s start date, some faculty had met with Roberts, who hired Majdalani, and asked him to rescind the job offer.

The university’s website lists Majdalani as an aerospace engineering professor. A staff directory of the Aerospace Engineering Department lists him as the Francis Chair.

A university spokesman emailed a statement to the newspaper on Thursday saying, “Auburn will not publicly discuss personnel matters or pending litigation.”

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Information from: Opelika-Auburn News, http://www.oanow.com/

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