Seeks Restitution for Professor Terminated on the Basis of Race/Gender

LOS ANGELES, CA - Today, MALDEF filed suit, in Los Angeles County Superior Court, against Pomona College for race and gender discrimination. MALDEF represents Alma Martinez, a former Pomona professor denied tenure despite a proven track record of successfully meeting her duties through six years of employment with the college and a unanimous departmental recommendation that she be promoted to a fully tenured position. This, and other evidence, will demonstrate that the denial of tenure rested unlawfully on Martinez's national origin and gender.

"Discrimination in the tenure process has a particularly pernicious impact because professors are role models for the many Latino university students whose success in higher education is essential to our nation's future," stated Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel. "When these students see well-qualified scholars denied tenure, it only discourages their pursuit of a career in academia, perpetuating longstanding patterns of underrepresentation in university faculty."

On September 11, 2011, the Department of Theatre and Dance at Pomona College unanimously recommended that Professor Martinez be promoted from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor, a position that comes with tenure. That request was denied on January 18, 2013, even though Professor Martinez met the criteria for promotion as stated in the faculty handbook, including intellectual leadership, professional achievement, and effective service. She was also notified that she would be terminated. Her last day at Pomona College was on June 30, 2013.

Professor Martinez suffered significant economic losses and emotional distress as a result of Pomona College's actions. 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 for the economic loss and emotional distress the professor suffered, in an amount to be determined at trial.

MALDEF Staff Attorney, Matthew Barragan, stated, "Pomona College has a preconceived idea of what a professor should look like, and while Dr. Martinez does not fit into that stereotype, her credentials, dedicated teaching, and directing capability uniquely qualify her to fill the role."

A copy of the complaint is available here: Pomona College Complaint

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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