Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Ex-student sues WSU, Salva Army Woman alleges unfair treatment for being unwed and pregnant

Ex-student sues WSU, Salvation Army
Woman alleges unfair treatment for being unwed and pregnant

A former Wayne State University student has filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging she was stopped from earning a master's degree in social work because she was unmarried and pregnant.
Tina Varlesi filed suit alleging School of Social Work officials and the Salvation Army, where she was completing a required internship in early 2008, discriminated against her for months. The Farmington Hills woman was advised to drop out of the program, told to "wear baggy clothes" during the internship and called a "beached whale," the suit said.

In an evaluation, supervisors told Varlesi, who had a 3.96 grade point average at the time, she failed 53 of 54 categories for her internship, according to the suit. She then was dismissed from the social work program. Despite filing a complaint with Wayne State's Office of Equal Opportunity, Varlesi's attempts to challenge her grades and termination were denied.
Her lawyers argue in the suit filed last week that the school and the Salvation Army, which receive federal funds, violated terms of Title IX, the 1972 federal law that bans discrimination in education programs and activities receiving federal funds.
"Wayne violated the law by allowing her pregnancy to become a factor in how she was treated and graded," said her attorney, Deborah Gordon. "Our client was a very good student. She should've been allowed to complete the program, get her degree and move on with her life."
Since then, Varlesi has applied to other social work programs but been denied because of being dismissed, Gordon said. "They've taken away her ability to have her career. She's going to have to start all over."
Wayne State University spokeswoman Jessica Archer declined comment, saying the university does not comment on pending litigation. A Salvation Army spokeswoman, Michelle Zdrodowski, also declined comment for similar reasons.

From The Detroit News:

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