Professor sues UH, claiming harassment


POSTED: Thursday, March 12, 2009

A University of Hawaii-Manoa professor who was banned from campus in 2007 and forbidden to talk with faculty, staff and students has filed a federal lawsuit against the College of Education and the state of Hawaii.

In a four-page, hand-written complaint filed Monday, Michael D'Andrea alleges “;retaliatory harassment”; over his complaints about institutional racism in the college.

On March 2, 2007, interim Chancellor Denise Konan banned D'Andrea from campus and from speaking to faculty, staff and students because of alleged complaints about D'Andrea's bullying and intimidating conduct.

D'Andrea, his attorney, the American Civil Liberties Union and the university reached a settlement in 2007 that allowed D'Andrea to come onto campus, except for the College of Education building, and to speak to faculty, staff and students who want to speak with him. D'Andrea said the settlement is still in effect.

D'Andrea, a tenured professor in the Department of Counseling Education, said the university is in the process of trying to fire him, but he is still doing research and being paid by the university.

D'Andrea filed a complaint with the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission in 2006, alleging discrimination against him because he is an Italian American and because of his complaints to the college over alleged institutional racism and sexism at the university.

“;My working-class Italian-American background and the way I communicate may conflict with persons in other cultural groups that are less direct in their approach,”; D'Andrea said last night. He also said he believes the university is treating him differently from other people who have been accused of workplace violence and harassment because of his opposition to the Iraq war and in retaliation for his complaints against the administration.

In December the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said the agency was unable to determine whether there were violations of D'Andrea's civil rights, which opened the way for his lawsuit.

D'Andrea is representing himself but says he is in discussions with attorneys here and on the mainland about the case.

UH-Manoa spokeswoman Diane Chang said the university has not received a copy of the suit and could not comment.