Seung-Whan Choi, an internal relations professor and U.S. citizen born in Korea, filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against the University of Illinois at Chicago for alleged race discrimination, reports the Chicago Tribune. The lawsuit states that Choi had filed a complaint in October to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and had received a “right to sue” notice shortly after.
Seung-Whan Choi was fired from a tenure-track position at UIC in 2011, followed by his reinstatement months later. Choi claims that after this incident, race discrimination ensued for years because he is from Korea. He claims that he was required to teach courses in both Korean politics and in statistics, fields in which he is not qualified to instruct, stating that a UIC Department of Political Science official had said, “Asians, especially Koreans are very good at mathematics and statistics.”
The lawsuit includes an alleged 2015 incident with the then-department head, Dennis Judd. Judd supposedly changed a student’s grades without consulting Choi; Choi had confronted him, leading to Judd to allegedly respond that he “knows that many Koreans are stubborn and do not understand American culture of compromise when dealing with their boss.”
Choi also claims that he was not given the same raises as his peers in the department, denied promotion to status as full professor, and was wrongfully accused of not contributing to the department. Choi told the Chicago Tribune, “They don’t like Korean Americans. I’m supposed to be very submissive to the department head, who is white American.” Choi does not wish to further involve himself with the department, reporting increased anxiety, increased blood pressure, and negative effects on his home life. How much Choi plans to seek in damages is not yet disclosed.
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