Pitt Spanish prof fired for accent

Faculty members “used disparaging terms to describe non-Latin American individuals, and Prof. Monasterios has described Spain as being the land of ‘the oppressors,'” the lawsuit said.

A white Spanish professor filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday claiming she was fired from the University of Pittsburgh because she spoke the language with a European accent and was looked down upon by Hispanic faculty members, including a Bolivian department chair who called Spain a land of “oppressors.”

Sarah Williams, who is identified only as a Pittsburgh-area resident who is over 40 years old, contends she was an award-winning teacher for most of her 14 years who only began to have problems at the university after Elizabeth Monasterios, a Bolivian, became chair of the Spanish language department in 2008.

“The leadership of the department before and during the time when her renewal came up was in the hands of Latin American Hispanic people and she was treated unfairly, notwithstanding being an outstanding teacher recognized for her long and excellent service,” Williams’ attorney, James Lieber, told The Associated Press. “First she began to lose opportunities and then she began to lose her job.”

The department faculty voted in October 2010 not to extend Williams’ contract, and after she lost an appeal to the provost, her contract was terminated at the end of June, according to the lawsuit.


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