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Professor sues Poly for discrimination and harassment 

A female African-American professor is suing Cal Poly for alleged racial and gender discrimination, harassment, and failure to accommodate physical disabilities.

Roslyn M. Caldwell, an associate professor in the Cal Poly Department of Psychology and Child Development, is listed as the plaintiff in the suit filed in SLO Superior Court on Aug. 23, which accuses the university of violating the Fair Employment and Housing Act on 10 counts.

According to the suit, Caldwell was, “subjected to racist and racially insensitive comments by multiple faculty members, beginning in 2007 through the filing of this complaint.”

The suit further claims that Caldwell was “harassed and retaliated against for complaining about the race, color, ancestry, and gender discrimination that she faces on campus.”

In September 2014, Caldwell suffered injuries to her “knee, leg, and back” and requested “reasonable accommodations” from the university. The lawsuit alleges that her request was denied, and a few months later, Caldwell “suffered an industrial injury at work caused by the failure to provide accommodations.”

Other charges in the suit include failure to take reasonable steps to prevent discrimination from occurring, retaliation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and failure to engage in a good faith interaction process. 

The alleged violations caused Caldwell “shock, embarrassment, physical distress and injury, humiliation, emotional distress, stress, and other damages to be proven at the time of trial.”

Neither Caldwell nor the firm that filed the lawsuit, Jaret & Jaret of San Rafael, returned phone and email requests for comment before press time.

Matt Lazier, the media relations director for Cal Poly, responded to New Times via email.

“The university has just learned of Dr. Caldwell’s lawsuit but has not yet been officially served with it,” Lazier said. “Once the lawsuit has been served, the university’s written response to the court will include our position with respect to Dr. Caldwell’s allegations. We expect to be able to address the lawsuit in greater detail with the media at that time.”

When Cal Poly is served with the lawsuit, it will have 30 days to formally respond.

Caldwell joined Cal Poly as a tenure-track faculty member in 2007. She is the founder and current director of the Bakari Mentoring Program at Cal Poly, which provides mentoring for at-risk and under-served youth in SLO County high schools.

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