Editor's note: This story was updated at 5:30 a.m. on May 4, 2023, to include a statement from the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
A former teaching assistant within the University of Nebraska Omaha’s Department of English is suing the University of Nebraska Board of Regents, UNO, the Chancellor of UNO, the department chairperson and her program supervisor for racial discrimination.
The plaintiff, Denisha Seals, filed the lawsuit today. It alleges that multiple members of the UNO Department of English discriminated against her as an afro-indigenous woman.
Along with the NU Board of Regents and UNO, Seals is suing Joanne Li, UNO Chancellor; Tracy Bridgeford, the chairperson of the UNO English department; and Margarette Christensen, her program supervisor at the time, in both an individual and official capacity.
"UNO is committed to providing a learning, teaching, and working environment that is free from discrimination, harassment, and retaliation," UNO said in an email.
"With respect to Ms. Seals' case, the University strongly disagrees with the allegations in the complaint. UNO successfully defended this matter before the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission and intends to vigorously defend this lawsuit," the email continued.
Seals enrolled in 2021, and only stayed for around four weeks, according to Seals' lawyer John Cartier.
The complaint details numerous incidents of racism, bullying, and harassment suffered by Seals.
Seals is suing UNO and the NU Board of Regents for racial discrimination under the Nebraska Fair Employment Act, racial discrimination by an employer, racially Hostile Educational Environment, Disability discrimination under the Nebraska Fair Employment Act and Discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
She is suing all defendants for Race Discrimination Constituting Hostile Work Environment, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress and Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress.
She is suing Bridgeford, Li and Christensen for Deprivation of Rights Under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 By Persons Acting Under Color of State Law.
Cartier says that there are two goals for the lawsuit: one being Seals receiving compensation for the harassment and discrimination she allegedly faced, and the other being giving those who have experienced the same issues a chance to come forward.
"With any lawsuit, justice is ultimately the goal,” he said.
The Board of Regents, NU and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln could not be reached by The Daily Nebraskan at this time.
The full lawsuit with the extent of allegations can be read here.