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SUNY Brockport president, vice-president sued for racial discrimination by employee

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BROCKPORT, N.Y. (WROC) — SUNY Brockport, President Heidi Macpherson, and Vice President of Advancement Mike Andriatch have been sued for racial discrimination.

Victoria Elsenheimer filed the lawsuit after previously filing a complaint with the EEOC back in October 2019. Back in March, the EEOC issued a right to sue letter to Elsenheimer.

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News 8 reached out to Elsenheimer’s lawyer regarding the final decision from the EEOC on this complaint, he said “I have no comment at this time.”

According to the lawsuit, Elsenheimer is an African American female. She started working for SUNY Brockport in 1998. Since 2003, she has been the administrative assistant to the Vice President of Advancement.

The lawsuit states in May 2019, SUNY Brockport hired three other people who held comparable positions to Elsenheimer, supporting a Vice President of SUNY Brockport. Each of these three people were white females.

According to the lawsuit, in 2018 these three white women received promotions to Executive Assistant, and Elsenheimer did not, despite having more experience than the other women. The lawsuit reads:

“SUNY Brockport, Macpherson, and Andriatch knowingly and intentionally failed and refused to change Elsenheimer’s title to Executive Assistant due to their illegal discriminatory animus towards Elsenheimer.”

The lawsuit says Elsenheimer asked a Human Resources employee and former Chief Diversity Officer, Dr. Cephas Archie, why she was not also given the title. In June 2019, Elsenheimer was informed she would be given the upgraded title. The lawsuit says she was never given a reason, and was only given the title upgrade after she complained to HR.

Archie was fired for “personnel reasons” back in January. Students protested on campus after his firing. He now works for the City of Rochester.

The lawsuit accuses Macpherson and Andriatch of “aiding and abetting the discrimination and retaliation” against Elsenheimer.

The lawsuit also mentions the climate investigation of SUNY Brockport, performed by Curtis Lloyd, former Vice Chancellor for Human Resources at SUNY.

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Also mentioned is Macpherson’s treatment of Archie, to exemplify what the lawsuit calls the President and her cabinet’s “racially discriminatory animus.”

The lawsuit says while the Allen Administration building was being renovated during 2018 and 2019, Macpherson moved her office and all her direct reports, except Archie, to Dailey Hall.

The lawsuit states Archie was the only racially diverse employee who reported directly to Macpherson.

The lawsuit says Archie was instead moved to Morgan Hall, “a dirty, roach-infested building that lacked proper heating and lighting and had been designated for demolition.”

The lawsuit also outlines the days before Archie’s firing in January 2020.

The lawsuit states on January 22, 2020, Archie texted a member of the President’s Cabinet that his mother had to be taken to the hospital in an ambulance and was in the critical care unit. The lawsuit says Macpherson was given this information that afternoon.

According to the lawsuit, Macpherson then texted Archie to tell him she was aware of his family emergency involving his mother. The lawsuit states the next day, January 23, Archie attended the Athena Award ceremony honoring Macpherson.

Archie was fired from SUNY Brockport the following day, January 24.

News 8 reached out to SUNY Brockport for comment. A spokesperson said they have only learned about the lawsuit through media reports, and hadn’t been served papers as of Tuesday evening, therefore they have no comment.

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