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Dolezal sued Howard University for discrimination, judge ordered her head examined

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A judge ordered Rachel Dolezal undergo a medical examination after the white former-NAACP official sued her alma mater for discrimination in denying her a teaching post and scholarship.

Before Dolezal, 37, pretended to be black for nearly a decade, she sued historically black Howard University in 2002, the year she graduated from there with a master of fine arts degree, The Smoking Gun blog reported Monday.

Dolezal, then known as Rachel Moore, sued both the university and Professor Alfred Smith, then-chairman of its department of art, claiming “discrimination based on race, pregnancy, family responsibilities and gender,” according to a Court of Appeals opinion obtained by the blog.

The court opinion also noted that Dolezal’s lawsuit alleged that Howard was “permeated with discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult.”

Dolezal argued that Smith and school officials improperly blocked her appointment to a teaching assistant post, rejected her application for a post-graduate instructorship, and denied her scholarship aid while she was a student.

The lawsuit sought “claims for medical and emotional distress damage,” according to a court docket obtained by the blog.

Judge Zoe Bush dismissed the lawsuit in February of 2004, finding no evidence that Dolezal was discriminated against on the basis of race or other factors.  Bush’s official biography lists her as an active member of the National Association of Black Women Attorneys.

Bush is still a judge with the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, where she has served as a civil rights “legend” to Washington D.C. students, according to Street Law.

Dolezal appealed Bush’s decision, which was upheld by the D.C. Court of Appeals.

Dolezal was ordered by the court to reimburse Howard for $2,728.50 in expenses, plus nearly $1,000 for an “obstructive and vexatious” court filing attempting to improperly delay her examination by an independent doctor.

An independent medical examination (called an “IME” in the court documents) is commonly used to establish injury claims that former employees make against their employers.  In Dolezal’s lawsuit, she claimed emotional distress, which the court would have sought to explore through the examination.

In other words, the court believed that Dolezal, quite literally, needed to have her head examined.

Steve Berman


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