EEOC Rules in Favor of MIT in Racial Discrimination Complaint Filed by Former Engineering Faculty Member, James L. Sherley

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has rejected a racial discrimination complaint filed by former MIT faculty member James L. Sherley.

In January 2005 Sherley, an associate professor of biological engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was denied tenure. Sherley claimed that he was denied adequate laboratory resources and that the racism of his colleagues was a factor in the denial of tenure.

In early 2007 Sherley went on a 12-day hunger strike. MIT closed Professor Sherley’s lab last summer when his employment contract with the university expired. Dr. Sherley filed his complaint with the EEOC this past September.

In the EEOC response to Professor Sherley, the commission said that any harm that was done happened when tenure was denied in early 2005, not when Sherley’s employment was terminated, and therefore the claim was filed too late for the commission to act.

But the commissioners also stated that had the commission acted on the merits of the case, it would have ruled for the university. The EEOC said that MIT’s reasons for denying Sherley tenure were valid and nondiscriminatory.

Under the law Shirley has until next week to decide whether to take the issue to federal court.