NORMAN, Okla. - A former dean at the University of Oklahoma said she wasn’t paid like her male counterparts and the president of the university violated her First Amendment rights.
Suzette Grillot said she filed a lawsuit against the university after years of mistreatment in the workplace and points to specific examples where she felt personally threatened by the defendants.
Now, she wants the university to pay up.
“For me, I think that I have suffered at the University of Oklahoma, and now I am seeking justice,” said Suzette Grillot.
Grillot pointed to what she called injustices at a press conference Friday morning.
“Believe me I am still afraid and I have tenure,” said Grillot.
The former dean of the College of International Studies said she saw pay discrimination, failure to support an inclusive environment, and a culture of fear for speaking out.
Grillot has now filed a lawsuit against OU’s Board of Regents, its president, James Gallogly, and provost, Kyle Harper.
“I hope that this lawsuit will shed light on this issue and lead to relief and justice not only for me but to all women at OU who have been subjected to this unfair and illegal treatment,” said Grillot.
The suit claims the university violated the Equal Pay Act due to “peer male deans being paid more than plaintiff for performing work of substantially equal skill”.
Grillot said she brought this concern to the defendants’ attention several times.
“There’s a lot going on here that needs to be exposed and my hope is that it will be,” said Grillot.
In 2018, the president and Grillot held several budget meetings about OU’s study abroad program.
The lawsuit states the defendant verbally reprimanded her for making information public by saying “You wouldn’t understand the budget even if I showed it to you. You are just an academic. You study the world. I have worked around the world”.
In January, Gallogly closed the university’s study center in Rio De Janeiro.
“There should be no reason why we advantage a budget over humans,” said Grillot.
Less than a week later, Grillot said she was removed from her position as dean after she spoke publicly against the racism and sexism on campus along with the hiring process used for Gallogly.
"People are afraid,” said Grillot. “They are afraid to do so right now. We’ve got to get that started. We have got a lot of work to do.”
OU released this statement in response to the suit:
“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.”