Fired Advisor Sues COCC

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A college academic advisor who was fired this year is now suing the school. Thurman Holder worked at Central Oregon Community College from September 2009 and was terminated from his position in April, 2014.
In the suit, filed with Deschutes County Circuit Court on or around Sept. 15, 2014, Holder alleges gender discrimination was a key factor in his dismissal. Holder names Kevin Kimball, COCC Chief Financial Officer, and Vickery Viles, Holder’s direct supervisor and CAP Center Director, as defendants.
According to the legal document, in October 2013, an email was sent to academic advisors discussing students who were having difficulty scheduling appointments. Holder allegedly then volunteered that if any of his students were having difficulty scheduling appointments, he would be willing to meet the students outside his assigned office hours at a location convenient. Holder has done off-site counseling for the past four years, according to the suit.
After that communication, the suit alleges, Viles told Holder to immediately stop advising students off campus. Holder asserts in the suit that he was being singled out regarding off-campus advising and that female employees were allowed to continue advising students off-campus.
In January 2013, Holder was put on administrative leave. Around two weeks later, Viles presented Holder with a notice of a pre-dismissal hearing set for February. The notice, presented to Holder alleged Holder had offered to meet students at a bar for academic advising, had contacted a co-worker multiple times, and offered a student money for her boots after she indicated she was experiencing financial struggles, according to the suit.
Before the pre-dismissal hearing in February, Holder’s attorney contacted COCC notifying the college that “any disciplinary action” against Holder would be seen as gender discrimination.
In April, Holder received an email from Kimball stating the recommendation for dismissal was being upheld. In the suit, Holder contends that Kimball and Viles were not “neutral decision makers” in the process. In addition, Holder contends that he was terminated before an investigation of the gender discrimination claim was complete.
The suit seeks $31,990 in lost wages and benefits since his dismissal as well as $300,000 in non-economic damages such as mental and emotional distress.
Ron Paradis, spokesman for COCC, said he was unable to comment about pending litigation.

Molly Svendsen | The Broadside
(Contact: msvendsen@cocc.edu)

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