Former Kornberg associate dean sues for discrimination

Brooke Walker alleges that Amid Ismail, dean of Kornberg, physically intimidated her in a lawsuit.

Brooke Walker, a former associate dean for the Maurice H. Kornberg School of Dentistry, is suing the university for allegedly firing her in February 2019 after she filed a sex discrimination complaint. | JEREMY ELVAS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

A former administrator in Temple University’s Maurice H. Kornberg School of Dentistry has sued Temple University for allegedly firing her in February 2019 after she complained of sex discrimination. 

Brooke Walker, who became the associate dean of development and admissions for the school in February 2017, alleged in the lawsuit that Amid Ismail, the dean of the school, blamed her for “issues outside of her control,” took away some of her job responsibilities and instructed her not to speak during some meetings. 

Neither Walker nor Ismail could be reached for comment on the lawsuit.

Katherine Oeltjen, Walker’s attorney, filed the lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on Sept. 4. Oeltjen declined to comment on the lawsuit. 

Temple is aware of the lawsuit and its allegations, wrote Ray Betzner, a spokesperson for the university, in an email to The Temple News. 

“Temple University will vigorously defend itself against these claims which have previously been investigated and found baseless,” he wrote.

In the lawsuit, Walker alleged that Ismail asked her in January 2019 to send him an email every time she left the building that houses Kornberg. In a meeting two days later, Ismail physically intimidated her and responded in an “angry and hostile tone” when she asked if he did not trust her, Walker alleged. 

Walker filed a sex discrimination complaint against Ismail to a representative from Temple Human Resources on Jan. 23, 2019, and told the representative she believed Ismail was biased against women.

Walker was fired on Feb. 4, 2019, approximately 10 days after filing the HR complaint, the lawsuit alleged.

Walker was told she was terminated because Ismail “could not work with [her].” Walker had not previously received complaints about her job performance, she alleged. 

Prior to her position at Kornberg, Walker had worked in development and alumni affairs at Temple since 2001, and became the assistant vice president for global programs in the Office of International Affairs in 2009, according to the lawsuit. 

From 2007 to 2015, Walker reported to Hai-Lung Dai, the Laura H. Carnell professor of chemistry who formerly worked as the dean of the College of Science and Technology, interim provost and provost, she alleged.

Walker alleged Dai retaliated against her after she “cautioned” him about imbalances she noticed in the way he administered student exchanges and other financial “details” for international students. Dai allegedly criticized Walker’s management skills and took away her responsibilities for managing international affairs, according to the lawsuit.

Dai could not be reached for comment. 

Around May 2016, Dai asked Walker to lunch at Temple’s faculty club, where he threatened her if she reported his behavior, she alleged in the lawsuit. 

Walker alleged the treatment she received from Ismail and Dai violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act and Bill 130684 of the Philadelphia Code of the Pennsylvania Fair Practices Ordinance.

Temple waived its formal service of a summons on Sept. 11, meaning the university has 60 days from that date to answer Walker’s complaint. 

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