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College reaches settlement with white faculty

Benedict College, a small private school in Columbia, S.C., has reached a settlement with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which sued the historically black college on behalf of three white faculty members who claimed to be victims of racial discrimination.

According to the complaint the EEOC filed with the U.S. District Court for South Carolina, Columbia division, the college "discriminated" against Argiri Aggelopoulou, Michael Hale and Katherine Mille when it failed to renew their teaching contracts for the 2005-2006 school year, effectively terminating them.

The complaint also alleged that the college discriminated against Aggelopoulou, an art instructor, by failing to promote her to an assistant professor position.
Carol Ervin, an attorney who represents Benedict College, denied the former faculty members' allegations.

"As a historically black college, Benedict College opposes any and all discrimination, and particularly race discrimination," Ervin wrote in an e-mail to The State, a South Carolina newspaper. "The college specifically denies the claims of discrimination raised by the three faculty members in question."

Though the college denied any wrongdoing, it agreed to settle the case and to pay each of the former faculty members $55,000, according to the EEOC's press release. As part of the settlement, the college also agreed to "redistribute its equal employment opportunity policy prohibiting discrimination based on race and other protected categories," the press release read.

Lynette Barnes, the regional attorney for the EEOC's Charlotte district office, wrote in an e-mail to The Herald that the settlement was a "win-win for both parties."

"By negotiating the pre-litigation settlement with Benedict College, the Commission obtained significant injunctive relief to deter future discrimination, and monetary relief for the three claimants," Barnes wrote. "Likewise, Benedict College was able to avoid the time and expense of contested litigation, and to negotiate a deal that it could live with."


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