Judge Denies Effort to Avoid Trial For Terminating Latina Professor

LOS ANGELES, CA - Yesterday, L.A. County Superior Court Judge Ernest Hiroshige denied a Pomona College effort to avoid trial in a lawsuit MALDEF filed against the college in the summer of 2013 for race and gender discrimination. In Martinez v. Pomona College, MALDEF represents Alma Martinez, a former Pomona professor who was denied tenure despite a proven track record of successfully meeting her duties throughout six years of employment with the college, and a unanimous departmental recommendation that she be promoted to a fully-tenured position. The trial is set to begin on July 22, 2015. Trial promises to expose significant evidence of anti-Latina discrimination at Pomona College.

"Pomona College cannot long remain a leader in American higher education if it discriminates against professors from the nation's largest and fast-growing minority group," stated Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel. "Professors are role models, and no institution should model discrimination to those students who look up to inspiring teachers."

Professor Martinez taught in Pomona's Department of Theatre and Dance. In September 2011, her colleagues unanimously recommended her for promotion from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor, a position that comes with tenure. She met all of the criteria for promotion stated in the faculty handbook. But, Professor Martinez was notified that she would not be promoted, and that she would be terminated. Her final day at the college was a year and a half after she received the notification.

As a result of Pomona's actions, Professor Martinez suffered significant economic losses and emotional distress. MALDEF seeks to have the professor reinstated at Pomona College, in a fully-tenured position, with all of the associated rights and privileges; and, also seeks restitution, in an amount to be determined at trial, for the economic loss and emotional distress the professor suffered.

"After today, Pomona College will have to defend its decision to deny tenure to Dr. Martinez in front of a jury," said Victor Viramontes, MALDEF National Senior Counsel. "MALDEF will present evidence that racial and gender discrimination tainted Pomona College's actions."

A copy of MALDEF's complaint in this case is available here.

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "Latino Legal Voice for Civil Rights in America" MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit:

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