Molly English-Bowers Jan. 22, 2016, 12:47pm


BENTON – A female educator of Palestinian descent is suing Southern Illinois University, alleging discrimination in her attempt to secure a job.

Sandra Tamari filed a lawsuit Jan. 20 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois against the Southern Illinois University Board of Trustees and Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, alleging discrimination.

According to the complaint, Tamari, who considered herself highly qualified, applied for the position of assistant director of graduate and international recruitment in early 2013 at SIU-Edwardsville. An American who is bilingual, the plaintiff is of Palestinian descent, and the lawsuit alleges that Arab-speaking students have been met with frequent hostility by some members of the university community.

Despite her qualifications, the suit says, Tamari was denied an opportunity to interview on campus for the open position. The suit further alleges a person who was unqualified for the position was invited to interview on campus. Tamari says this is a result of unlawful discrimination on account of her national origin.

The plaintiff filed a complaint with the university's Office of Institutional Compliance, which the lawsuit alleges the office purported to investigate but did not. In fact, the suit says, an OIC investigator said it is indeed lawful for the university to discriminate in employment decisions based on national origin.

As a result of her reporting and resisting unlawful discrimination against herself and others, the suit says, Tamari has been subjected to ongoing retaliation. Because of the discrimination and retaliation, the plaintiff says she has experienced damages, loss of opportunities for professional advancement and emotional distress, humiliation and embarrassment. Further, she has incurred attorney fees and court costs, the suit says.

Tamari seeks a ruling that the university can no longer engage in unlawful discrimination based on national origin, the awarding of compensatory damages and damages related to lost wages and benefits, and other relief the court deems fair. She is represented by attorneys Lee W. Barron and William D. Buchanan of Alton.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois case number 16-cv-00063

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