Student and community groups gathered in Bruin Plaza Wednesday to show support for a UCLA surgeon who recently filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the university.
Members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the UCLA Afrikan Student Union and the UCLA Black Alumni Association came together to express solidarity for Dr. Christian Head, a head and neck surgeon at the UCLA Medical Center, who filed the suit in April. Head was also present at the rally on Wednesday.
The surgeon is alleging that the university failed to prevent discrimination, harassment, retaliation and infliction of intentional emotional distress.
Head said derogatory comments were directed at him while at work, and his supervisors prevented him from receiving adequate support and pay because of his race, according to the lawsuit.
“As painful as the experiences were, what has been more painful is the lack of a definitive response (from the university),” Head said in a speech to the crowd.
Ron Hasson, the primary organizer of Wednesday’s event and a member of the NAACP, called on the university to thoroughly investigate the charges.
Head’s allegations were brought to the attention of university officials about one year ago and have not been ignored by the university, according to a UCLA statement released today.
Since the lawsuit was filed, university officials said they have not been able to confirm Head’s claims.
“UCLA was unable to substantiate his claims of ongoing discrimination and retribution and therefore declined to settle with Dr. Head,” the statement said. “Unfortunately, pending litigation prevents (university officials) from commenting further.”
The lawsuit has garnered national attention in recent weeks. A YouTube video and online petition were recently created to address the lawsuit and express support for Head.
At the rally on Wednesday, Kevin Harbour, vice president of operations from the UCLA Black Alumni Association, and Tierra Moore, a fourth-year global studies and political science student and co-chair of the Afrikan Student Union, called on the UCLA community to support Head and condemned the alleged discrimination.
“There is a broad awareness, particularly in the African American community, for what has happened to Dr. Head,” said Peter Brown, a spokesman from the Foley Lyman Law Group, which is representing Head.
The university’s response will determine the case’s progress, Brown said.