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Discrimination suit against RIT dimissed

A federal judge has dismissed a 2010 racial-discrimination and gender-discrimination suit that a former employee of Rochester Institute of Technology’s business incubator filed against the university.

Sharon Edwards was hired in 2003 and terminated from RIT’s Venture Creations incubator in 2012. Her suit claimed the university discriminated against her in various ways including by failing to promote her to the position of director, by delaying the update of her title in a computer system from operations coordinator to operations manager for three years, and ultimately by terminating her.

Edwards’ job, as described in court papers, was to work with the director of the center, and to handle organizational duties for the incubator’s tenants, such as billing, making sure spaces were ready for new tenants, and providing supplies and keys for tenants to use. She also was to arrange for internet technology assistance and board of directors meetings. The holder of a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in management with an accounting major, she said her previous work history had been limited to short-term jobs mostly in the clerical and secretarial field because she was juggling her own college schedule and taking care of her children.

Judge Frank P. Geraci Jr., in dismissing the complaint, said Edwards’ own arguments worked against her. He also listed several times when Edwards’ legal arguments varied. She contended, for example, that her job duties were poorly defined yet also contended that certain tasks given to her were outside her job description. Over the life of the lawsuit, she was represented by two different attorneys and by herself between the two. She also admitted to multiple conflicts with co-workers at RIT and in previous positions, especially when working in groups of women, and to failing to carry out some of the duties that had been asked of her at Venture Creations.

Geraci wrote that Edwards “offers no evidence to show that RIT’s purported reason for her ultimate termination—her failure to manage her time and perform the work plan duties—was false.”

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