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Help a black professor and his wife defeat racism at Emporia State University
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Court Orders Emporia State University to trial on Title VII Racial Discrimination

One word can create a hostile work environment

Title VII claims brought against ESU by former employee Angelica Hale, a pro se litigant, survives summary judgment and proceeds to trial

URGENCY - Angelica Hale and her husband, Dr. Melvin Hale, both filed federal lawsuits against ESU, and have survived numerous motions to dismiss their claims since 2015, to no avail. On November 9, 2018, the Court ruled against ESU on a motion for summary judgment in Angelica's case, and in no uncertain terms, ruled that her Title VII claims cannot be dismissed. The case will go to trial in January in front of the same judge in a bench trial. Angelica needs financial help for travel and lodging expenses for going to Kansas from California for trial. Please read the court order at:

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Press Release:
November 13, 2018 (Topeka, Kansas):

A federal judge in Kansas denied parts of a summary judgment motion brought by Emporia State University (ESU) to dismiss a Title VII racial discrimination and retaliation claim brought by a former assistant to the dean of ESU’s School of Library and Information Management (SLIM). In a ruling on November 9th, Angelica Hale, a self-represented (pro-se) litigant, successfully held a public university accountable for Title VII employment violations in federal court. ESU is represented by the office of Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt. Hale’s Section 1983 claims against three ESU administrators were dismissed when they were all granted qualified immunity. A trial date has been set for January 8, 2019 in Topeka, Kansas. Judge Crabtree will preside over the bench trial for Title VII discrimination and retaliation claims. Title VII is landmark civil rights legislation banning employers from discriminating against employees due to their race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.  Among other things, Title VII protects those who report and/or protest against discrimination from retaliation.

The case centered on a racial epithet found written on a graduate student’s notepad in her office. Federal Judge Daniel Crabtree wrote: “Defendants’ summary judgment motion argues that no reasonable jury could conclude from the summary judgment facts that plaintiff was complaining about a hostile work environment based on just one instance of discrimination—i.e., finding the word “NIGGAZ” written on a notepad.” Doc. 121, pg. 20. “Viewing the summary judgment facts here in plaintiff’s favor, the court concludes that a reasonable jury could conclude that finding the word “NIGGAZ” written in the work place could constitute severe or pervasive harassment sufficient to support a complaint of hostile work environment.” Doc. 121, pg. 22.

But, as our Circuit has recognized, “courts frequently have found to be appropriate for jury consideration (and thus not appropriate for rejection at the summary-judgment phase)” evidence of “the use of the word ‘nigger’—more specifically, the variant, ‘nigga’” because of these words’ “potentially powerful race-based effect.” Lounds, 812 F.3d at 1229; see also Id. at 1230 (“‘[P]erhaps no single act can more quickly alter the conditions of employment than the use of an unambiguously racial epithet such as nigger by a supervisor. This single incident might well have been sufficient to establish a hostile work environment.’” (quoting Ayissi-Etoh v. Fannie Mae, 712 F.3d 572, 577 (D.C. Cir. 2013).

When ESU announced the results of an internal investigation into the writing of the racial slur, which Hale termed a “hate crime,” on September 9, 2015, ESU General Counsel Kevin Johnson, sitting with Interim President Jackie Vietti, told the public and media in a press conference that: “Writing a word down, writing one word down on a piece of paper is not a crime. No matter what the word is, no matter what the situation is. You can write anything you want. One word is not going to be a crime.  I mean, I can’t imagine what one word would be criminal.  And you know, First Amendment still applies.” It appears that Johnson is promoting the use of offensive racial slurs on the basis of the First Amendment. Title VII expressly forbids racial discrimination and bias in the work place. The Court made this very clear, and ESU needs to revise what they are telling the student body and the community about the use of racial epithets. The N-word can create a hostile work environment all by itself.

Dr. Melvin Hale and his wife Angelica Hale filed separate lawsuits in December 2016 after ESU retaliated against the former ESU library school professor and his wife, who also worked at ESU as an assistant to the Dean of the School of Library and Information Management (SLIM). They reported a hate incident and staged protest marches against racism on campus in 2015. Another former professor, Dr. Rajesh Singh, also has a pending discrimination case against ESU.

Updates on the cases by Dr. Melvin Hale and Angelica Hale can be found at:



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