Another Former Employee Sues Collin College, Alleges Discrimination Based on Race and Disability

Several former employees are taking Collin College to court.
Several former employees are taking Collin College to court. Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash
In September and October, two educators filed separate lawsuits against their former employer, Collin College. Now, the school has a hat trick on its hands.

Earlier this month, a third former employee sued the college, which he’s accused of retaliation and discrimination on the basis of race and disability, among other complaints. In court documents filed on Nov. 4, Keith Otto, an Antigua and Barbuda native, claims his supervisor created a hostile work environment for him.

The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court’s Northern District of Texas. In 2019, Otto also filed dual charges against the school with the Dallas District of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Texas Workforce Commission’s Civil Rights Division.

Otto was hired as a business advisor in May 2015 and remained at Collin College until October 2018, documents show. He’s alleging the school violated multiple federal protections, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“My workplace was permeated with discriminatory intimidation, ridicule and insult which adversely altered the conditions of my employment,” Otto wrote in part.

In the documents, Otto claims that he faced numerous discriminatory acts throughout his employment. He says his initial request for accommodation wasn’t approved for more than two years — until a few months before his “wrongful termination.”

“My workplace was permeated with discriminatory intimidation, ridicule and insult." – Keith Otto, former Collin College employee

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Otto also wrote that his former supervisor displayed “continual favoritism” toward his white coworkers, who weren’t held to the same strict standards. The supervisor allegedly directed those colleagues to “spy on” Otto’s work and report purported shortcomings, including "trivial grammatical mistakes."

“Neither I nor the other black professional were ever tasked to monitor the white co-workers’ databases,” Otto wrote.

In addition, Otto says that despite his disability, the supervisor would often interrupt his work, undermining his productivity. Otto also alleges the supervisor tried to cover up a white colleague’s threatening behavior toward him.

“All co-workers saw this co-worker screaming and cursing profanities at me in an office meeting: then he jumped up, bolted from our meeting and left work for the day,” Otto wrote. He added that the “unprovoked misconduct” violated school standards but that the incident went unreported by his supervisor.

Among other requests, Otto is asking for lost back wages, re-employment and compensatory damages for emotional distress.

Otto did not return the Observer’s requests for comment by publication time.

In an email, Collin College spokesperson Kirk Dickey said the school is aware of the latest lawsuit.

“The college has responded to Mr. Otto’s allegations since his separation from the college’s employment in October 2018,” he continued. “Out of respect for the privacy of former employees, it is our practice not to comment on litigation of this type in the media.”

Multiple professors have come forward with allegations against Collin College in recent months. Some have claimed they were let go because they criticized the school's COVID-19 response; others cite their involvement in a local non-bargaining teachers' union.

One Asian administrator accused a provost of race-based discrimination, the Allen American reported in April. A Black professor resigned earlier this year, alleging years of racial harassment.
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Simone Carter, a staff news reporter at the Dallas Observer, graduated from the University of North Texas' Mayborn School of Journalism. Her favorite color is red, but she digs Miles Davis' Kind of Blue.
Contact: Simone Carter