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Lawsuit against career college alleges racist hiring practices, wage abuses


MEMPHIS, Tenn.—A former Anthem Career College administrator has alleged the school fired him for protesting what he observed as racially biased hiring practices and employee wage abuses.

Joseph Simpson, who had been the Memphis, Tenn.-based career training college's dean of education for just seven months prior to his abrupt termination on March 28, 2012, sued the school on April 9 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee in Memphis.

In his complaint, Mr. Simpson accused the school's Memphis campus president, Brenda Nash, of excluding black applicants from consideration for full-time employment. Among those applicants, Mr. Simpson claimed in his suit, was a “fully-qualified African-American registrar” candidate whom Ms. Nash allegedly rejected several times “while pushing forward white candidates who were less qualified.”

Mr. Simpson also accused the school—and, specifically, Ms. Nash—of altering employees' timecards “in an effort to limit their overtime compensation,” according to court documents.

After submitting his concerns over Ms. Nash's actions in the form of a letter to James Vernon, the school's provost and chief academic officer, Mr. Simpson claims that Ms. Nash became “openly hostile” toward him, micromanaging his work and openly criticizing him in front of his peers.

Mr. Simpson claims he formally petitioned the school, through his attorney, to put a stop to Ms. Nash's conduct toward him on March 28. Later that day, he was informed that he had been fired from the school, but was not told why, according to court documents.

According to the lawsuit, Mr. Simpson is seeking back and front pay and liquidated damages for lost benefits, as well as compensatory and punitive damages for the retaliation and civil rights violations.

The college didn't respond to a request for comment.