September 5, 2017

Chicago, IL - The Illinois Institute of Technology fired a 63-year-old Latino employee months after he began scheduling regular meetings to discuss maltreatment of Latino faculty and staff, according to a complaint filed today alleging age and race discrimination.

MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) filed the complaint in federal court on behalf of Andres Garza, the former executive director of the Career Management Center at the Chicago private university. Garza began scheduling monthly lunch meetings in late 2015 for Latino faculty and staff to discuss lack of advancement opportunities and unfair treatment. Despite a performance review that said he had exceeded expectations and being awarded the highest possible salary for his job, he was dismissed in April 2016.

"Discrimination in any higher education institution is particularly pernicious," said Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF president and general counsel. "These are supposed to be the locus of future opportunity, and discriminatory actions poison that potential for all students."

The complaint, filed in United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, alleges that the university discriminated against Garza based on his age and ethnicity in violation of civil rights protections and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

"It’s unfortunate that in this day and age, some employers continue to violate the well-established law barring discrimination based on age or ethnicity," said Veronica Cortez, a staff attorney with MALDEF. "While we are disappointed to still be fighting this fight today, we are not surprised and are always prepared to challenge employers who ignore the law."

The lawsuit requests a jury trial and seeks compensation for lost wages and benefits, compensatory damages and reinstatement to Garza’s former position or a comparable one.

Read the complaint here.

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "Latino Legal Voice for Civil Rights in America" MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit:

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund