Former Cal State San Bernardino administrators claim they were fired for complaining about gender discrimination – San Bernardino Sun



Two former Cal State San Bernardino administrators have sued the college president and the dean of the Palm Desert campus, alleging they were fired for speaking out about pay disparities and discrimination against female employees.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, March 14, in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Clare Weber, the former vice provost at Cal State San Bernardino, and Anissa Rogers, the former associate dean of its Palm Desert campus, allege a pattern and practice of discrimination and sexual harassment against female employees in violation the state’s Equal Pay Act.

The lawsuit names as defendants CSUSB President Tomas Morales, Palm Desert campus Dean Jake Zhu and the Board of Trustees of the California State University system, which comprises 23 campuses statewide and is the largest four-year public university system in the United States, employing nearly 56,000 faculty and staff.

Courtney Abrams, the attorney representing Weber and Rogers, said Wednesday that she and her clients tried to resolve the matter with top CSU officials and their counsel before suing, but says they were not interested.

“Perhaps not surprisingly, given the number of lawsuits against CSU alleging gender discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation, CSU did not appear to have a sincere interest in either telling us what their legal defenses might be or engaging in settlement discussions,” Abrams said.

She said the lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles County because that is where Weber resides.

Weber began her career in the CSU system in 2002 at Cal State Dominguez Hills, where she worked her way up the ladder from assistant professor of sociology to associate vice president of faculty affairs and development. In August 2017, she joined Cal State San Bernardino as its vice provost, Abrams said.

Weber received glowing job evaluations from her superiors until she complained to Morales that she and other female vice provosts were being paid less than their male counterparts at CSUSB, and that Weber was one of the lowest paid vice provosts in the CSU system despite her large assignment portfolio. She requested a raise.

That prompted a backlash of “unprecedented and unwarranted criticism” against Weber, which she noted in a July 2022 letter to Morales, stating, in part, she was shocked at the university’s response to her complaints. She was asked to resign, which she refused to do. The next day, she was fired from her position, according to the lawsuit.

Rogers, who was hired as associate dean at the Palm Desert campus in August 2019, alleged in the lawsuit that on Oct. 15, 2021, she fielded multiple complaints from female employees who attended a “coffee with the dean” meeting that Zhu hosted in which two male department heads berated a female administrator for about half an hour. Zhu witnessed the conduct but did nothing.

Rogers confronted Zhu about what happened the same day after hearing about it from the other employees who attended the meeting.

“Zhu seemed annoyed by her complaint and he became dismissive and defensive. Despicably, Defendant Zhu instructed Dr. Rogers to just ‘train the men’ even though this was not within the scope of Dr. Rogers’ job duties,” according to the lawsuit.

Zhu, according to the lawsuit, subsequently targeted Rogers for termination, pretextually complaining about vacation time she took and attending an event at her daughter’s college that he initially approved without complaint. On Jan. 1, 2022, Rogers, according to the lawsuit, was ‘constructively terminated’ and forced to resign her position.

Weber and Rogers retreated to faculty positions, Weber as a professor of sociology and Rogers as a professor of social work, Abrams said, adding that the positions both her clients now hold pay less and are less prestigious.

CSUSB spokesman Joe Gutierrez declined to comment Wednesday, citing the pending litigation.

Michael Uhlenkamp, spokesman for the CSU Chancellor’s Office in Long Beach, said the office had just received a copy of the lawsuit Wednesday and was reviewing the claims by both plaintiffs.

“While an initial assessment is that it contains many statements of hyperbole, we take all allegations seriously and are committed to determining the actual facts of the case,” Uhlenkamp said, adding that the university system “strives to provide fair and appropriate compensation for all our valued employees.”



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