On Dovey's Wings: Former Employees Sue Howard University for $136.5 Million

By Hawkins, B. Denise | Black Issues in Higher Education, February 22, 1996 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

On Dovey's Wings: Former Employees Sue Howard University for $136.5 Million


Hawkins, B. Denise, Black Issues in Higher Education


WASHINGTON -- Attorney Dovey J. Roundtree loves her alma mater.

"I love Howard University and I want Howard always to be a beacon of light and justice."

That's why she decided to represent more than three dozen former Howard University staff members who are suing the institution for $136.5 million in damages, claiming that they were wrongfully fired. Last month a Superior Court judge here dismissed claims by the university that the case had no merit.

Roundtree, a 1950 Howard law school alumna, says she is not convinced by the university's claims that its ailing fiscal condition forced the firings. "I want to see for myself just what's going on."

"Our contention is that Howard University did not follow their own rules in firing employees," says Roundtree, referring to the university's "blue book" or employee handbook of rules and regulations. "[Howard officials] say the blue book isn't a contract, but anybody can see that it is."

Howard University's general counsel, Norma Leftwich, would not comment in detail on the case. "We intend to vigorously defend the university in this lawsuit. Beyond that we really don't have anything further to say."

"The university was built and established on service and truth and Howard University has failed on both," says Alonzo Johnson, who was director of the university's support services and physical-facilities management when he was abruptly fired Nov. 9, 1994, after 32 years of service.

Johnson, a plaintiff, was among 400 administrative and support staff workers who lost their jobs in a mass layoff at the university in 1994 as part of what Howard officials called a restructuring plan. Dr. Joyce A. Ladner, the university's interim president at the time of the layoffs, said that legally she had no choice in executing the trustee-mandated cuts and restructuring efforts. The stop-gap measure was designed to close a $6.9-million budget deficit and eliminate non-essential jobs.

Not so, says the lawsuit filed here in Superior Court in October 1995. The suit argues that the restructuring plan was used to ferret out troublesome employees, many of whom had already filed sexual harassment and gender or race discrimination grievances against supervisors.

The suit names as defendants Dr. H. Patrick Swygert, the university's president; Dr. Thaddeus Garrett Jr., its board chairman; Ladner, who is now a member of the financial control board overseeing District of Columbia finances; and Dr.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

On Dovey's Wings: Former Employees Sue Howard University for $136.5 Million
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?