Demoted dean files First Amendment lawsuit against OU officials

NORMAN, Okla. – A recently demoted dean at the University of Oklahoma announced that she has filed a lawsuit, alleging retaliations against her for speaking out about the new administration.

In January, the public learned that several cuts were being made to OU’s College of International Studies.

At the same time, Dr. Suzette Grillot announced that she had been removed as dean of the college.

“After many months of trying to prevent the new administration from minimizing international education at the university and significantly reducing support for study abroad, global awareness, international student services and multicultural inclusion, President Gallogly and Provost Harper terminated my position as Dean,” Dr. Grillot wrote on Facebook.

Just days later, Grillot demanded that OU President James Gallogly resign immediately during an anti-racism rally.

“I am not going to be as kind as the people who [spoke] before me  and say, ‘In a year from now, we are going to ask for your resignation.’ I am f**** asking for it now,” she said.

Grillot says she was demoted from her position as dean as a form of retaliation, saying she spoke out against the hiring process used to bring in President Gallogly. The president, she says, questioned her on the importance of recruiting students from Brazil and Mexico through programs in her department.

"If I have to explain why we need a diverse student body to a president of a public institution of higher education, then we all know what kind of leader we have and what kind of trouble we’re in," she said to the crowd.

Now, Grillot has filed a lawsuit against the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents, Gallogly and OU Vice President Jon Harper.

In the lawsuit, Grillot alleges that she was "wrongfully demoted" due to speaking out about OU's administration and their actions regarding international studies.

She says after she made public comments about possible staff layoffs, she was verbally reprimanded by Gallogly.

"Defendant Gallogly made such statements as: 'You wouldn't understand the budget even if I showed it to you. You are just an academic. You just study the world. I have worked around the world. My passport is twice as thick as yours," the lawsuit alleges.

She says she also learned that Gallogly referred to her as "emotional, unprofessional, over-reactive and not to be trusted."

Grillot claims that before she was demoted, she had never received a negative employment performance review.

As a result, she is suing for lost wages and punitive damages.

The University of Oklahoma sent News 4 the following statement regarding the lawsuit:

"The University of Oklahoma has not been served with a copy of the complaint and has not had an opportunity to evaluate the allegations.  Once we receive the complaint, OU will file court documents to respond that we are confident illustrate the university acted appropriately and fulfilled its responsibility to treat all its employees fairly and equitably."

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