Brarailty "Rel" Dowdell, an African American filmmaker, claims in a federal lawsuit filed last week that Community College of Philadelphia discriminated against him based on his race and sex by denying him a full-time teaching job as a member of the English department.
Dowdell, who has worked for the college for 12 years as an adjunct faculty member, said he made it through initial interviews by the hiring committee and English department in 2005 and 2015.
But his suit contends he was stopped both times by then-vice president for academic affairs Judith Gay, an African American, and Sharon Thompson, associate vice president for academic affairs and dean of liberal studies, who is white.
Only three of at least 50 full-time faculty hires in the English department over the last 15 years have been African American males, the suit contends.
More than half the college's student body is African American, and 17.5 percent of its full-time faculty are black or African American, according to statistics provided by the college.
The college declined to comment Monday.
Dowdell, a Central High School graduate, is best known for his films Train Ride, about a date rape on a college campus, and Changing the Game, about a black male who rises out of a Philadelphia neighborhood only to confront corruption on Wall Street. The latter film was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013.
Dowdell also filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, which has not ruled on the case. In its response to the state, the college wrote that Gay and Thompson "did not feel that the complainant met the qualifications identified by the department."
The suit contends that of the seven full-time faculty hired for the English department in 2015, none was an African American man. The same was true in 2005, said Dowdell, a Fisk University graduate in English who earned a master's degree in film and screenwriting from Boston University.
In its response to the state commission, the college acknowledged there were no African American males hired in 2015 but said three of the six hires were minority candidates.