Korean-American Professor Sues School for Racial Discrimination

Screenshot from Prof. Choi Seung-whan's Homepage at UIC

An international relations professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago has filed a lawsuit against the school, alleging he was discriminated against because he is from Korea.

In a story posted in the Chicago Tribune, Seung-Whan Choi’s lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Chicago, claims that after the Korean-born U.S. citizen was fired from his tenure-track position at UIC in 2011 and reinstated months later, he experienced years of discrimination and retaliation due to his race and national origin.

Choi alleges that he was “ostracized and denied raises comparable to his peers in the department of political science.” Choi also said he was forced to teach courses in statistics for which he is not qualified because, one department official said, “Asians, especially Koreans are very good at mathematics and statistics.”

He claims he was also forced to teach a class in Korean politics, though he didn’t have any training.

“They don’t like Korean-Americans,” Choi said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune. “I’m supposed to be very submissive to the department head, who is white-American.”

He also complained of being wrongfully accused of lacking in academic contributions and not services to the department according to the lawsuit.

He alleges his former department head Dennis Judd said that he knows “many Koreans are stubborn and do not understand American culture of compromise when dealing with their boss,” and also “as a foreigner, has to keep in mind who he is dealing with and what he is wishing for.”

His lawyer has not specified how much his client is seeking in punitive damages.



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