Elon University won a case against a former custodian after he failed to prove he was passed up for a promotion and terminated because of racial discrimination.

Teofilo Matias is Hispanic and a naturalized United States citizen. He was employed by Elon University for 17 years as a custodian before being fired in February 2016 following a sexual harassment investigation, according to the original lawsuit filed back in May 2017. 

On Monday, a U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina ruled that Matias was unable to prove “his qualifications were demonstrably superior” to the man they ended up hiring, according to the lawsuit. 

Matias also argued a fellow employee had “been accused of sexual harassment multiple times by different employees on different occasions,” and remained on the job while Matias was let go “under apparently similar circumstances.” 

Human Resource investigations found the employee never violated Elon University’s code of conduct. This compares to HR investigation against Matias and found he “created a hostile work environment for [his coworker],” according to the court opinion. Thus, the court found these two incidences not “similarly situated.”

According to court opinion, Matias was also unable to prove discrimination was a reason for his termination, but failed to show “evidence of conduct or statements that both reflect directly the alleged discriminatory attitude and that bear directly on the consented employment decision.”

The full 19-page opinion is listed below. 


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