Professor sues Cal Poly over race, gender discrimination

September 8, 2016

Cal Poly LargeAn African American woman who has worked as a professor at Cal Poly since 2007 has sued the university, alleging discrimination over race and gender. The lawsuit also accuses university officials of failing to accommodate for her physical disabilities. [New Times]

San Rafael law firm Jaret & Jaret filed the lawsuit in San Luis Obispo Superior Court on behalf Roslyn M. Caldwell on Aug. 23. Caldwell, who arrived at Cal Poly as a tenure-track faculty member, is currently an associate professor in the department of psychology and child development.

The lawsuit states Caldwell was subjected to racist and racially insensitive comments by multiple faculty members. The comments have been ongoing since 2007, according to the suit.

Caldwell also alleges that she was harassed and retaliated against for complaining about the on campus discrimination.

In Sept. 2014, Caldwell suffered knee, leg and back injuries and requested reasonable accommodations from the university, according to the lawsuit. The suit states the request was denied, and a few months later, Caldwell suffered an injury at work that was caused by the university’s refusal to accommodate her request.

Caldwell suffered shock, embarrassment, physical distress, injury, humiliation, emotional distress and other damages due to her mistreatment at Cal Poly, according to the lawsuit. The suit accuses Cal Poly of 10 violations of the Fair Employment and Housing Act.

Cal Poly spokesman Matt Lazier said the university has yet to be served with the suit. Once served, the university will have 30 days to respond.

In addition to teaching at the university, Caldwell is the founder and director of the Bakari Mentoring Program at Cal Poly. The program offers mentoring to at-risk and under-served youth who attend San Luis Obispo County high schools.

Caldwell was named to the Tribune’s top 20 under 40 list in 2010.


2015 $123,851.76

2014 $101,596.41

2013 $100,240.24

2012 $83,652.00

2011 $71,346.00


Reminds me of 10-15 years ago at King-Drew hospital in LA, 100 people got hurt falling out of their office chairs and collected 3.5 million $$$. Never underestimate government workers.


Sounds like Caldwell thinks it’s time to retire and she is working to collect her benefits


Cal Poly won’t pay a dime of any settlement. The STUDENTS and the TAXPAYERS will pay the settlement.

WE are the victims of these scams. State employees are bankrupting our state. Because we pay out so much in salaries, benefits, pensions, and claims there is not enough money left for essential services like road and infrastructure repairs, clinics and hospitals, prisons…. the list goes on and on.

Jorge Estrada

I don’t think that she will have to argue her case, the campus roster will do it for her. The trajectory for what is desirable for tenure has been well documented over the past 30 years.


Looks like Caldwell is using every ounce of her race, gender and injury claims… along with her psychology background… to extort Poly… and they will cave. Then she can teach “The Psychology of Making Grievances Pay 101.” Interesting group of student ratings offer a clearer picture of who this person is.


Polyratings is hardly a viable picture of who a professor really is; and I did happen to read through most of her reviews. As is typical with online review sites, you have a greater likelihood of getting reviewed if someone finds you either really bad or particularly good. Her score is low, but quite a few students still expressed admiration or that they enjoyed the class. And obviously, some people didn’t like their grades so they hate her guts.

Not to mention about a quarter of the professors have rating under 2, if not a deal more. Being disliked by students is a badge of honor for some.


My daughter recently graduated from the Childhood Development program at Cal Poly. Caldwell is notorious for being very rude when speaking with the students and handing out assignments that she doesn’t adequately explain and then grading them arbitrarily. Other students in the program cautioned her to avoid Caldwell’s classes. My daughter tried but did get stuck in one of her courses. She said it was the worst experience she had from any professor in her department.


What a load . . . . . .


i’m tired of this _ _ _ _. play the card. i saw this more than 30 years ago. and who is the attorney? just passed the bar? i really don’t know the full particulars…but sue the bastards anyway. get yer name in the paper.

unfortunately now she is poison.


She knows that it will cost Cal Poly a couple hundred thousand to defend the university in a lawsuit. They will settle for a little less if she agrees to go away. She will end up earning more then $1.3 million working at Poly for a few years.

San Louie

Not cutting the mustard to make full professor? A race and gender lawsuit should fix that! Perhaps Caldwell can reference being on the Tribune’s top 20 under 40 list in 2010 as “proof” that she should be a full professor?