SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (AP) — A former University of Rhode Island professor has sued the school, alleging he was fired as retaliation for challenging the lack of diversity in the school’s leadership and encouraging students to speak out against systemic racism.
The federal suit filed by former political science professor Louis Kwame Fosu names the school, the board of trustees, outgoing President David Dooley and several other administrators as defendants, The Providence Journal reported Thursday.
The university violated Fosu's free-speech rights by retaliating against him for advocating for “diversity, justice and inclusion at URI,” according to the suit.
Fosu, who is Black, also alleges the university violated his due process rights by placing him on administrative leave and ultimately firing him and depriving him of equal protection under the law by disciplining him differently and more harshly than his white colleagues.
He is asking for his job back.
“He wants to send a message to everyone that you can speak up and you can exercise your First Amendment rights, especially as a Black man, an African American man, and not lose your job," said his attorney, Jessica Sanderson.
While not addressing the specific allegations, a university spokesperson said they “lack merit.”
“The University of Rhode Island has reviewed the lawsuit filed by Professor Fosu and is prepared to defend itself and its officials vigorously against his allegations," Linda Acciardo said in an email. “The university maintains that professor Fosu’s allegations lack merit."