A Lehigh University professor of religion and Africana studies has filed a lawsuit against the university, alleging that she was subject to unlawful discrimination and retaliation due to her race and gender after reporting she claims she was sexually harassed by former Lehigh professor James Braxton Peterson, according to lehighvalleylive.com.
Monica Miller, who is still employed by the university, filed her suit in federal court on March 7, alleging that the university dismissed her allegations against Peterson and gave him special cover despite knowing the allegations of sexual harassment as early as 2011. Peterson, the former director of Africana studies, was placed on leave in November 2017 before resigning in January 2018.
According to lehighvalleylive.com, Miller is seeking actual and punitive damages, as well as pay and benefits from the extra job responsibilities that Lehigh forced Miller to take on while Peterson was on paid administrative leave during an investigation into Peterson. The suit claims that Miller was not paid extra money for her new duties.
Miller alleges that Lehigh dismissed her sexual harassment claims in an effort to promote the university’s image as racially diverse and accepting institution in light of monitoring by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights after racial hostility and vandalism at the UMOJA house in 2013.
Miller and Peterson are both black.
The lawsuit details Peterson’s alleged repeated inappropriate advances toward Miller that she repeatedly denied, including asking her to sit on his lap at a restaurant when Miller came to do an interview with the university, attempting to kiss her, and rubbing her leg underneath the restaurant table after Miller refused to sit on his lap.
Over the next three years after applying for the Lehigh position in 2013, Miller said in the suit that she was continuously sexually harassed.
After a Sabbatical from July 2016 to July 2017, Miller allegedly returned to Lehigh to aggression from colleagues and faculty members.