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Former OU dean Suzette Grillot files lawsuit against president, board of regents

A former University of Oklahoma dean alleges in a lawsuit that the university president, provost and board of regents violated her First Amendment rights.

Suzette Grillot, who served as the dean of the College of International Studies as well as vice provost of International Programs, alleges her public comments and criticisms of the university caused her to lose her position as dean, funding for programs she was involved with and emotional harm from a “toxic” work environment.

The lawsuit, filed in Oklahoma City federal court, names OU President James Gallogly, Provost Kyle Harper and the OU board of regents as defendants.

“This isn't just about me,” Grillot said Friday morning. “It’s about many. I hope this will shed light on that and that it will bring change that all of at the University of Oklahoma and the state of Oklahoma deserve.”

On Friday afternoon, OU said it had not received a copy of the complaint and had not had the opportunity to evaluate the allegations.

Grillot said between December 2017 and March of 2019 she was subjected to wage discrimination based on gender and a hostile work environment and disparate treatment in the form of gender discrimination.

Grillot said her First Amendment rights were violated when she was removed from numerous roles, including as dean in January, due to her public criticisms of the university. She is seeking financial compensation, including punitive damages.

Grillot called out then-OU Regent Kirk Humphreys in December of 2017 for making derogatory comments on the basis of sexuality. In January 2018, Grillot questioned the OU board of regents for a “nontransparent” search for the next university president.

In January, Grillot gave an impassioned speech directed at Gallogly at an OU rally to end racism, calling for the president’s resignation.

Grillot said more details will be provided later.

“I look forward to sharing about the toxic and hostile work environment that I work in and so many others work in,” she said. “Those details will be forthcoming and I look forward to those coming out.”

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Adam Kemp

Adam Kemp is the Higher Education reporter for The Oklahoman and Kemp grew up in Oklahoma City before attending Oklahoma State University. Kemp has interned for the Oklahoman, the Oklahoma Gazette and covered Oklahoma State Football... Read more ›