MEMPHIS (CN) - A former dean of education claims in Federal Court that the for-profit Anthem Career College fired him for protesting its racist hiring practices and cheating workers of overtime.
Joseph Simpson claims Anthem fired him after he complained of its "discriminating on the basis of race in hiring, [and] prohibiting and interfering with workers receiving earned overtime compensation," among other things.
Simpson claims Anthem hired him in August 2011, and that he "was repeatedly praised for the quality of his work. In October of 2011, Campus President Brenda Nash ... met with plaintiff and complimented him on the positive changes that he had effected already in his brief tenure. Moreover, Ms. Nash indicated that she was including plaintiff in a succession plan to become campus president," according to the complaint.
However, the complaint continues: "Over the next several months, plaintiff began to have concerns about the legality of some of the actions of Ms. Nash. Specifically, Ms. Nash was only offering fulltime employment opportunities to white candidates and not to African-American candidates. Ms. Nash also repeatedly blocked plaintiff's attempts to hire a fully qualified African-American registrar while pushing forward white candidates who were less qualified.
"Plaintiff further became aware that Ms. Nash made adjustments to the time of nonexempt employees in an effort to limit their overtime compensation and Ms. Nash unlawfully influenced a nonexempt employee to work off-the-clock thereby depriving this employee of overtime in violation of federal law.
"Plaintiff also became aware that Ms. Nash had permitted unauthorized and untrained persons to handle student files in the registrar's office and in doing so violated the Family Education Right and Privacy Act ('FERPA') and Tennessee's higher education regulations."
According to its website, Anthem Career College "provides career-oriented training and education to help graduates compete effectively for entry-level positions in healthcare, business and paralegal fields." It has campuses in Memphis and Nashville. The Memphis outlet is one of 22 campuses in the Anthem Education Group, founded in 1965, which includes an online university.
Simpson claims that in March this year, he wrote a formal complaint to the college provost, vice president and vice president of human resources, complaining of the racism and overtime violations.
Soon, he says, "Ms. Nash became openly hostile to plaintiff and began to micro-manage plaintiff's work. Ms. Nash was also unjustifiably hypercritical of plaintiff's work and attempted to embarrass and humiliate him by publicly criticizing him in front of his peers."
It all ended quickly, Simpson says: "On the morning of March 28, 2012, plaintiff's attorney wrote a letter requesting that defendant put a stop to Ms. Nash's retaliatory action. This letter was emailed to defendant's Vice-President/General Counsel at 9:10 a.m CST (Ex. A attached to complaint). At approximately 1:00 p.m. CST, plaintiff was informed that he was terminated and was given no reason for his termination.
"Defendant's hostile treatment of plaintiff after his March 9, 2012 complaints, including but not limited to his termination from employment, were taken directly in retaliation for plaintiff's complaints of racial discrimination, wage and hour violations, FMLA violations, and unauthorized access to student records."
Simpson seeks back pay, front pay, liquidated damages for lost benefits, and compensatory and punitive damages for retaliation, and civil rights violations.
He is represented by Bryce Ashby with the Donati Law Firm.