The Aug. 22 complaint from five current and former female employees alleges discrimination; wrongful termination or demotion; harassment and intimidation; pay inequities; and other things.
“It is aimed at women, primarily African-American women,” the complaint says. “It has resulted in adverse, career limiting, and damaging personnel actions against women such as pay inequities, wrongful demotions, and wrongful terminations. Women in high-level and leadership positions have either resigned, been terminated, and/or demoted since Dr. Thomas’ tenure started in July of 2020.”
The complaint doesn’t include specific allegations but says each is willing to provide testimony. It requests a third-party investigation, for Thomas to be placed on administrative leave and for his contract to be suspended or canceled.
The complaint is signed by Isabelle Cayo-Sanders, Lena Fields-Arnold, Felicia Harris-Nagel, Wendy Hayes and Ieesha Ramsey — all current or former CSU employees.
David Duwel, an attorney representing the five women, said his clients are cooperating with the outside investigators and have no comment while the investigation is underway.
Thomas has continued serving in a very public role since these complaints were made. Earlier this month, he gave a speech and cut the ribbon opening a new Honors Residence Hall.
Thomas was hired as university president in 2020. His contract commenced in July 2020 and is up for renewal on July 1, 2023.
The contract includes pay raises each year to a current base pay of $300,000, plus a housing allowance of $54,000 and an automobile allowance of $12,000.
In response to a request for Thomas’ annual performance reviews, university officials said there are no such records.
“The review process for Central State University’s presidents has customarily been conducted verbally by the Board of Trustees,” the university said.
Thomas does provide trustees an annual report outlining his accomplishments and goals. The most recent report says Thomas accomplished fundraising goals by raising $4.7 million in external fundraising; obtained new corporate and philanthropic partners; increased enrollment by thousands of students, particularly online; improved customer service; implemented a campus master plan; and increased external engagement.
“Central State University is well-positioned to achieve academic excellence and to provide a quality, and well-rounded education to students in Ohio and beyond,” Thomas’ report for the 2021-2022 academic year says.