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A sexual harassment suit has been filed by Margaret “Margot” Herster, a former employee at the LSU School of Art and Design. She was employed as an instructor in the university.

LSU Board of Supervisors, Rod Parker, former dean of the College of Art Ken Carpenter, staff of the human resources department A.G. Monaco, Jennifer Normand and Mimi Ruebsamen, and Kimberley Arp, a LSU School of Art professor) have been named as the defendants in her complaint.

Male employees paid twice as much as women

She alleges in her complaint that her male colleagues earned twice as much salary as she did and that the money paid by her students were used for other purposes illegally. On complaining, the university retaliated against her and terminated her employment, according to her lawsuit. Herster said that the most disturbing and shocking part was that the faculty members who were harassing and discriminating women were protected and received the support of administrators.

Settlement conference on March 24

The references to inappropriate behavior in the dark room between male instructors and female students, and the remarks of a professor who allegedly rated women professors’ breasts could be brought out in the court trial when other LSU employees testify.

The trial would start if LSU and Herster do not settle their differences and negotiate a settlement, according to sexual harassment attorneys. A settlement conference is scheduled on March 24th by the Federal Magistrate Judge C. Michael Hill and all parties involved have to per force attend this conference as per the judge’s instructions. Sexual harassment attorneys for both parties were told to begin negotiations by US District Judge James Brady earlier.

Ernie Ballard, the spokesman for LSU declined to comment on the matter, stating that the university would not comment on litigations that were pending. All allegations made by Herster have been denied in a formal response given by the university. Sexual harassment attorneys, Amy McInnis and Wade Shows of the Shows Cali and Walsh law firm are representing the university.

Denied promotion for whistleblowing

Although a year before Herster was terminated, a panel that was constituted of faculty members had voted for her promotion unanimously, she was fired in 2012 when a similar panel decided not to renew her contract.  Herster had worked under the title of professional in residence for three years at LSU, and as per the complaint made by Herster in her lawsuit, employees are not supposed to be evaluated for renewal of contract until they complete six years, according to the policy of LSU.

Because she was the whistleblower for the misappropriation of students’ fees, she was fired by the university, according to Herster. After an internal audit was conducted in 2013, based on the fees being misused, more than $60,000 was refunded to students.

Her complaints on discrimination and harassment were not taken seriously by the university, according to the lawsuit. She said that she was employed in 2009 and shortly afterwards, noticed the general pattern of discrimination against women by the university.

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