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After complaining about the alleged discriminatory proceedings in 2011, former professor Cathrine Veikos was allegedly sent a letter by the dean of the School of Design, terminating her employment.

Credit: Kylie Cooper

A former Penn architecture professor was awarded $1 million after winning a retaliation lawsuit against Penn.

Penn was found liable for denying Cathrine Veikos a second review of her application for tenure as a way of retaliating against her complaints of discrimination by the University. Veikos was awarded $1 million dollars from the lawsuit after the court issued a verdict in her favor. Veikos previously filed a complaint in 2011 in which Penn was found not liable. 

Veikos’ attorney Julie Uebler declined to comment. Uebler's argument centered on alleging that Penn violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, focusing on Penn's reasons for denying Veikos tenure. In addition, Veikos claimed that Penn was not in compliance with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act as well as the Philadelphia Fair Practices Ordinance.

In response to a request for comment, a University spokesperson wrote that Penn does not usually comment on litigation. 

The court decided that Penn was not liable for denying Veikos her application for tenure or re-review her application because of her gender and status as a mother, as Veikos claimed. Veikos had allegedly utilized Penn’s child-care policy following the birth of her son to allow the extension of the tenure probationary period for junior faculty. 

“Penn adopted the policy to make it clear that the tenure clock 'stopped,' and academic production was not expected during that year,” according to the complaint filed on Sept. 9, 2020. 

In 2006, Penn approved the revised Policy on Extension of the Probationary Period that applies to granting tenure to associate professors. The revised policy allowed professors to get an extension of one year of their probationary period if they were the primary or co-equal parental caregiver of a child. Veikos gave birth to her son in September of the same year and came back to work fully in the spring semester of that academic year, according to court documents. 

During this time, Veikos was working on publishing an introductory essay as a separate book rather than as an appendix to her other book. During the 2009-2010 academic year, Veikos allegedly postponed her tenure application to the following academic year, when she would have the publishing contract for her first book, according to court documents.

On April 6, 2011, six of the eight faculty members of the tenured faculty in the Department of Architecture voted to grant tenure to Veikos, according to the documents. Five voted in favor of Veikos, but one faculty member allegedly changed his vote in a letter sent to the personnel committee on the same day with the voting results. The School of Design Personnel Committee voted against Veikos’s tenure with a vote of four against and zero in favor two days after.  

In the January 2022 order denying Penn’s motion for summary judgment, the court wrote that Penn said it denied Veikos tenure because of questions raised regarding the "quantity and quality of her scholarship." Penn also said that Veikos was told to emphasize quality instead of quantity, which is “secondary to judgment of quality and of intellectual eminence.”

After complaining about the alleged discriminatory proceedings, the dean of the School of Design allegedly sent a letter to Veikos on June 30, 2011, terminating her employment, neglecting the prior offer that was made to Veikos.