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Actress sues college for reinstatement

Academia is known as an exclusive community, with many departments dominated by white men with doctorates. As such, academic workplace environments can be fraught with hostile work environments and other problems, even though their denizens are ostensibly educated, professional employees. A highly respected Hollywood actress is suing a California college after she was reportedly the subject of discrimination because of her race and gender. The woman, Alma Martinez, is well-known as a stage and film actress, with notable roles in the film and play "Zoot Suit." She is seeking compensation for wrongful termination after she was denied tenure at Pomona College, which she says discriminates against women and Latinos.

The woman's case is being supported by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF). This case is not just about the actress, though, according to her legal team; rather, it represents the struggles endured by scores of Hispanic women throughout the nation. Martinez has been an inspiration for scores of these women. When the students see their qualified teachers being denied tenure because of demographic traits, they are less likely to pursue a career in the academic sphere. This robs all of us from the important cultural and scientific contributions that could result from their employment in academia.

The suit seeks to expose discriminatory practices throughout the nation's education system. Martinez says she was approved to advance to an associate professor status with tenure, having met the requirements and received a recommendation. Still, she was not permitted to join the permanent faculty of the institution. Martinez is seeking unspecified damages in the case, but she also wants to be rehired at the school so she can make a difference in students' lives.

Martinez was a Fulbright Scholar who holds a doctorate from Stanford University and a master's degree from the University of Southern California.

Source:, "Alma Martinez sues Pomona College for alleged discrimination" Tony Castro, Aug. 23, 2013

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