MATHUR discrimination trial, day 3: courtroom titters
Day 3 (Thursday) of the Raghu Mathur “discrimination” trial went well for the plaintiff, Aracely Mora.
Brief description of the case: Back in 2001, Irvine Valley College President Raghu P. Mathur hired the clearly inexperienced and unimpressive Rodney Poindexter (aka White Guy from Virginia) instead of the experienced and impressive Cely Mora (aka Experienced & Impressive Latina) for the new DEAN position. That looked bad, really bad. From the start, Dean Poindexter exhibited incompetence, emotional instability, and a pattern of harassing and menacing those females over whom he had authority. After a year, he was fired, but only after spectacularly disturbing episodes, including one in which a screaming Poindexter chased and cornered a secretary.
On Days 1 and 2 (Tuesday and Wednesday), we learned of the hiring committee’s horror when, after recommending Mora, Mathur hired the plainly inferior Poindexter. We learned of Poindexter’s shockingly unprofessional behavior, which was permitted to continue despite early and persistent warnings and complaints. We learned about an episode four years earlier in which a committee strongly recommended the hire of someone with stellar qualifications—someone who happened to be a woman of color; Mathur hired a “minimally qualified” white male instead. According to two witnesses who asked Mathur for his reasons, Mathur explained that he chose the white male because he (Mathur) did not want to be accused of “reverse discrimination” (Mathur is Indian and the candidate was Sri Lankan).
Normally, of course, the charge of “reverse discrimination” arises in cases in which a less qualified person of color is favored. In this case, the person of color was plainly more qualified.
Day 3 (Thursday) went well for the plaintiff (Mora). John Lowe, a now retired psychology instructor who served on the hiring committee, testified first. He explained that he had brought complaints of a hostile work environment to the relevant administrator (Glenn Roquemore, Mathur’s successor at IVC). Evidently, he had spoken with Mathur about the matter as well.
At one point, Lowe’s memo regarding workplace violence was introduced. The jury sat up. Mathur’s attorney argued that, in “fairness” to Poindexter, administration could not remove him without an investigation. Under redirect, Lowe testified that, in his mind, the issue was not one of fairness. The issue was one of workplace violence.
Next up was Cely, the plaintiff. She was allowed to read from her letter to the board of trustees (of the South Orange County Community College District), which asserted the discrimination allegation and also stated that she was the only administrator of color at the college and when she was not selected as dean, none remained.
According to one courtroom observer, the jury paid close attention to those two facts and also laughed when they saw the scores of the two candidates on the first two rounds. (Both instructors and administrators served on the hiring committee; their scoring differed in interesting ways.)
The trial resumes on Tuesday. Cely will finish her testimony.
Then comes Mathur!