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Author Gina Nahai Sues USC For Discrimination

Lizzie Pereira |
October 10, 2013 | 12:46 p.m. PDT

Executive Producer

Gina Nahai (Creative Commons)
Gina Nahai (Creative Commons)
Author, Gina Nahai, has filed a workplace discrimination and harassment lawsuit against the University of the Southern California and director of the USC Dornsife’s Master of Professional Writing Program, Brighde Mullins. The suit was filed at the Los Angeles Superior Court in September.

Nahai is claiming that she has been subject to discrimination and harassment on numerous occasions, which has thus “derailed [her] career, livelihood, and spirit,” the claim stated. 

The award-winning author, who is also herself a graduate from the USC’s Master of Professional Writing Program, says she has been pursuing a promotion since at least 2008. However, she said she has been repeatedly “denied the status of assistance professor despite her accomplishments… and that instead of advancing, Mullins reduced her role and teaching responsibilities.” 

Nahai is also claiming that she was “systematically discriminated against because she is an Iranian Jew," and that Mullins showed “open contempt,” “hostility,” and “derision” towards her, with remarks concerning her religious faith and ethnicity. The 17-page complaint cites numerous such instances over a five-year period.

The lawsuit states,” Despite the relentless pressure on her to resign in disgust, plaintiff seeks only to be able to continue to teach, a true love in her life, and thrive in a discrimination-free work environment, exactly what our California’s anti-discrimination laws and constitutional protections guarantee.” 

According to the Jewish Journal, where Nahai frequently contributes, Kelly Bendell from USC’s Office of the General Counsel dismissed the allegation via email. 

“The university is committed to a teaching and learning environment free from unlawful harassment and discrimination. Ms. Nahai has already made her claims known to the university prior to filing this lawsuit, and the university has determined that they are wholly without merit. The university is proud of its diverse and talented MPW faculty, including its director, Ms. Brighde Mullins, and will vigorously defend against these unfounded allegations.”

Nahai would not comment to the Journal. However her attorney released a statement. 

“We will litigate this righteous case, so important to persons of all faiths and background of Los Angeles in the judicial system, not outside the system; and we look forward to justice being achieved,” the statement said. 

Nahai is seeking financial compensation as well as punitive damages.

Reach Executive Producer Lizzie Pereira here



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