Rutgers University's Douglass Residential College Dean Jacquelyn Litt is shown in this 2011 photo.(Photo: The (Somerville, N.J.) Courier News)
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. -- Rutgers University is standing by its women's college dean, a distinguished women's studies scholar who has been accused by a former employee of disliking lesbians.
The university and Douglass Residential College Dean Jacquelyn Litt are named in the lawsuit filed by Laura Federico, who was fired last year from her senior-level public relations job at the school.
Federico says she lost her job because Litt didn't like lesbians and "felt that women who had men behind them were stronger and better employees."
"The fact that plaintiff was a lesbian was not a secret and, in fact, plaintiff kept a picture of her wife on her desk," her complaint says.
The university, in court papers filed in response to the lawsuit, denies that Litt harassed Federico and argues that her inability to meet deadlines was the reason she was let go last October.
Federico filed the lawsuit in January, months before the state university's player-abuse scandal erupted on national media.
Rutgers fired Mike Rice in April after video surfaced of the then-coach hitting men's basketball players and shouting gay slurs.
Former director of player development, Eric Murdock, whose contract was not renewed last year, also filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the university claiming officials did nothing to stop Rice.
The scandal cost the jobs of Athletics Director Tim Pernetti and university Chief Counsel John Wolf.
The Courier News obtained a copy of Federico's lawsuit after it was moved last month from state Superior Court in Newark, where it originally was filed, to the court in New Brunswick, in the county where the university is headquartered.
Federico, a former editor for the weekly Montclair Times, was hired by Rutgers in November 2011 to create articles and materials promoting the women's college.
The lawsuit says she was warned by colleagues that Litt "did not respect lesbians" and that previous gay women in the office had been forced to resign or transfer out or had been fired.
In its response, Rutgers acknowledges that the dean knew her employee's sexual orientation but denies that that was the basis of her job evaluation.
Rutgers says the ex-employee's work required "substantial revisions, changes or reworking."
Litt was appointed dean in 2010.
Previously, she had been a pioneering and award-winning women's and gender studies professor at the University of Missouri, Iowa State University and Allegheny College.
Last year Litt earned $176,000.
- Sergio Bichao, The (Somerville, N.J.) Courier News