Texas A&M diversity policies discriminate against white, Asian men - lawsuit

A general view shows Texas A&M University campus in College Station, Texas, U.S. December 6, 2016. REUTERS/Spencer Selvidge
  • Professor says policies favor women, minorities
  • Group founded by Trump aide spearheading lawsuit

(Reuters) - Texas A&M University has been hit with a proposed class action claiming its employment policies unlawfully discriminate against white and Asian men.

Richard Lowery, an associate professor of finance at the University of Texas at Austin, said in a complaint filed in Houston federal court on Saturday that Texas A&M's affirmative action policies bar him from getting a faculty job with the university system because he is white.

Lowery says policies adopted by the school favor women and non-Asian minorities in hiring, promotions and pay. That includes setting aside some faculty positions for members of underrepresented minority groups, according to the complaint.

"These discriminatory, illegal, and anti-meritocratic practices have been egged on by woke ideologues who populate the so-called diversity, equity, and inclusion offices at public and private universities throughout the United States," Lowery's lawyers wrote.

Laylan Copelin, vice chancellor of marketing and communications for the Texas A&M system, in a statement said it was "unusual" for Lowery to claim he could not get a job with the system when he had not applied for one.

"Our lawyers will review the lawsuit, confer with Texas A&M and take appropriate action as warranted," Copelin said.

The Texas A&M system includes 11 state-run universities with more than 150,000 students.

Lowery is represented by the America First Legal Foundation, a nonprofit founded last year by Stephen Miller, who was a top policy advisor to former Republican President Donald Trump known for his hardline views on immigration.

Many U.S. colleges and universities have been sued over race-conscious admission policies for students, and the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year agreed to hear a bid to bar Harvard University and the University of North Carolina from considering race in undergraduate admissions.

But few cases have focused on affirmative action policies adopted by universities with respect to their employees.

Lowery in his lawsuit says Texas A&M has set aside funds to supplement the salaries of faculty members from underrepresented minority groups and has said it wants its faculty's racial composition to reflect that of the state's population.

Lowery accused Texas A&M of violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibit race and sex discrimination in education programs that receive federal funding.

Lowery is seeking to represent a class of white and Asian men "who stand 'able and ready' to apply for faculty appointments at Texas A&M."

The lawsuit seeks to bar Texas A&M from considering race or sex in employment and the appointment of a monitor to oversee hiring, promotion and compensation decisions.

The case is Lowery v. Texas A&M University System, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, No. 4:22-cv-03091.

For Lowery: Jonathan Mitchell of Mitchell Law; Gene Hamilton of America First Legal Foundation

For Texas A&M: Not available

(NOTE: This article has been updated to include a statement from Laylan Copelin.)

Read more:

U.S. Supreme Court to hear challenge to race-conscious college admissions

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Dan Wiessner (@danwiessner) reports on labor and employment and immigration law, including litigation and policy making. He can be reached at daniel.wiessner@thomsonreuters.com.