National Institute on Aging

Black Staffer at the University of Arkansas Files a Race Discrimination Lawsuit Over Unequal Pay

Synetra Hughes, managing director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion in the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas, has filed a federal lawsuit claiming that she was paid less than White colleagues in similar roles at the university.

After being denied raises or given only small increases although she was given added responsibilities, Dr. Hughes searched university records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and found that “her non-Black colleagues were promoted and hired at much higher compensation rates and amounts.”

After filing a formal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Dr. Hughes claims in the lawsuit that she “has been subjected to retaliatory behavior by individuals at UA including being excluded from the Remote Work Pilot Program that was given to many in the college except her office.” The lawsuit also claims that she was treated worse, paid less, passed over for promotion, and had her job responsibilities increased.

Dr. Hughes joined the staff at the university in 2014. She holds a bachelor’s degree in transportation and logistics and a Ph.D. in workforce development education from the University of Arkansas. She also holds an MBA from Webster University. Dr. Hughes is also the president of the University of Arkansas Black Alumni Association.


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