Professor who served in Trump administration files suit against university for political discrimination

A professor who worked for the Trump administration for a year is suing five Oklahoma State University administrators and faculty members claiming she was denied a promotion to a full professor position over politics.

Whitney Bailey served for 13 months as a deputy administrator with the Department of Health and Human Services, a federal post which normally would be seen as a boost to an educator’s career.

But according to her lawsuit, she “suffered discrimination at a public university that has been intolerant of her political beliefs and affiliations, but more specifically, her public service for the Trump administration,” said Geoffrey Tabor, a Norman, Oklahoma, attorney, in an email to the Washington Times.

Bailey took a year of unpaid leave from her associate professor’s position with OSU’s Department of Human Development and Family Science to serve in the Trump administration beginning in December 2017. The leave of absence was consistent with the university’s policies, the Times reported.

A few months before her departure for the Trump administration, Bailey began the process of becoming a full professor after spending 13 years at OSU.

But despite positive reviews, awards, and recommendations, she was rejected for the post. That rejection came the same day she left to take the Trump administration position.

“The final decision in this promotion process was rendered to me 47 minutes prior to my leaving to serve in the Trump Administration,” she said in an email to the Times.

Bailey is a Republican but the provost, dean and three professors in charge of deciding on her promotion were Democrats who made no secret of their negative view of President Trump, according to the lawsuit.

Following Trump’s November 2016 victory, OSU administrators offered counseling to employees “who were having difficulty dealing with Trump’s election as President of the United States.”

The lawsuit filed Nov. 18 in Payne County District Court seeks at least $75,000 for economic loss and non-economic damages, including “humiliation, embarrassment, [and] injury to reputation.”

The university, in a statement to the Times, denied that politics played any role in rejecting Bailey’s application.

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