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New Jersey college dean allegedly called 911 when worker prayed

Employees and new managers often need time to adapt to different work styles and personalities. Sometimes, workers or managers leave because the combination doesn't mesh.

New bosses don't have permission to violate employee rights over a personality mismatch. Many Bergen County employees feel the answer to job strife, even a hostile work environment, is a self-propelled change of employment. Some workers stung by harassment or discrimination choose to take claims to court.

An ex-professor filed a legal complaint against William Paterson University in Wayne. The African American woman had been employed by the school for 19 years. In 2009, she was elevated to the position of department chair in the College of Education. The claim said the professor's troubles began the following year, with the hiring of a new dean.

The lawsuit alleges the dean immediately began to harass and treat the long-time professor differently, because of the employee's religion and race. The professor's department reportedly was placed under an undue amount of scrutiny, compared to other education departments.

The professor, who never had a single disciplinary problem, was allegedly accused of insubordination and unprofessional behavior by the "micromanaging" dean.

An incident in which the professor, a born-again Christian, prayed with a secretary who felt the sharp side of the dean's tongue ended up as a police incident. The dean reported the praying as a disturbance.

The university did not act on a complaint the professor filed, until formal charges were submitted. The school then told the professor to resign or face the loss of her position. The professor was removed as chairperson and filed a lawsuit last month for compensation due to physical and mental suffering.

Federal anti-discrimination laws are backed and supplemented by the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. To understand the protections you have in the workplace, consult with an employment law attorney.

Source: The Record, "Professor sues WPU over demotion, alleges discrimination" John Petrick, Jan. 02, 2014

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