Wichita — The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a lawsuit against Newman University alleging the former dean of admissions was subjected to discrimination because of her sex.
Marla Sexson claims she was passed over for promotions and retaliated against for filing a discrimination complaint. She also alleges that Aidan Dunleavy, president of the Roman Catholic university, made disparaging remarks about pregnant women, including her.
Earlier, the EEOC found probable cause to believe that Newman discriminated against Sexson and Tara Morrow, former director of student life.
Morrow, now the senior coordinator for rural health education and services at the Kansas University School of Medicine in Wichita, reached a confidential settlement with Newman earlier this month.
A Newman spokeswoman said university officials had not yet seen the suit, which was filed late Wednesday in federal court in Kansas City, Kan.
"Based on prior statements the university has made in this regard, Newman University denies any wrongdoing, and we are working through the legal process," said Kelly Snedden, communications director.
Newman, which started as a junior college for women, has a history of grooming women to be future leaders.
Sexson and Morrow claimed that attitude changed when Dunleavy took over as president in 2000.
"My claims are directed toward the current administration, which has stifled growth and created an atmosphere of fear at the school," Sexson said in a statement released by the EEOC.
When Sexson applied for promotion to vice president for enrollment management, she says another university official told her Dunleavy intended to hire a male for the post. She didn't get the job.