Indian-origin professor sues U.S. college for racial discrimination

"Babson favours white and male faculty and predominantly reserves awards and privileges for them”, Ms. Balachandra's complaint alleged

March 09, 2023 03:21 pm | Updated 03:21 pm IST - New York

Lakshmi Balachandra, associate professor of entrepreneurship at Babson College. Photo: Babson College Website

Lakshmi Balachandra, associate professor of entrepreneurship at Babson College. Photo: Babson College Website

An Indian-origin associate professor at the Wellesley business school, Massachusetts has filed a lawsuit alleging that she was subjected to racial and gender discrimination, according to a media report.

Lakshmi Balachandra, associate professor of entrepreneurship at Babson College alleged she lost career opportunities and faced economic losses, emotional distress, and harm to her reputation because of mistreatment and administrators’ failure to investigate her concerns, The Boston Globe newspaper reported on February 27.

Ms. Balachandra joined Babson’s faculty in 2012 and earned tenure in 2019.

In her lawsuit, she called out Andrew Corbett, a professor and former chair of the college’s entrepreneurship division, as the "primary direct perpetrators of the discriminatory work environment".

According to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Boston dated February 27, Ms. Balachandra alleged that Mr. Corbett, who oversaw teaching assignments, class scheduling, and annual reviews, only allowed her to teach required courses in entrepreneurship despite her requests to teach electives — even though she had taught such classes previously at MIT Sloan School of Management and Harvard Business School.

"Babson favours white and male faculty and predominantly reserves awards and privileges for them”, Ms. Balachandra's complaint alleged.

According to the complaint, despite her research record, expressed interest, and service to the college, she was denied numerous leadership positions and opportunities for more time to conduct research and write.

“Such privileges are routinely given to white male faculty in the entrepreneurship division,” the complaint read.

Ms. Balachandra’s attorney, Monica Shah, said that the professor has also filed a charge of discrimination with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.

Meanwhile, Babson College has responded that it takes concerns or complaints seriously and has well-established protocols and resources in place to thoroughly investigate and address them.

“The college is home to a diverse global community where equity and inclusion are valued and incorporated across every facet of campus, and where discrimination of any kind is not tolerated,” a spokesperson of Babson College was quoted as saying.

Ms. Balachandra, who is currently on leave for a fellowship at the National Science Foundation, is seeking unspecified damages, the report added.

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