A former faculty member is suing Trocaire College, alleging that the Catholic school in South Buffalo discriminated against him because he is heterosexual.
Dr. Csaba Marosan, who taught natural sciences at Trocaire for six years before he was fired in 2009, filed a lawsuit in federal court Thursday seeking lost wages and benefits, as well as compensatory and punitive awards.
"The economic damages are substantial," said Marosan's attorney, Frank Housh. "They've effectively at this point destroyed my client's career."
Marosan, 54, said he has been unable to find teaching employment since the college let him go. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court Western District of New York, also alleges age discrimination.
A lawyer representing the college denied Marosan's allegations, calling them baseless.
"Frankly, I think he's making scandalous allegations to try and embarrass the college into settling with him," said James Grasso.
Marosan's contention that people were hired by the college because they were gay was "ridiculous," Grasso said.
Age discrimination didn't occur, either, he said.
"There are people working in his department who are older than he is," said Grasso.
Nonetheless, Marosan was passed over for several promotions, the lawsuit states, despite consistently positive performance evaluations. It says those promotions went instead to younger employees who were openly gay.
The lawsuit follows a 2010 finding of "probable cause" by the state Division of Human Rights that Trocaire discriminated against Marosan and may have retaliated against him because of his original complaint.
The two sides were unable to negotiate a settlement after the state's finding, which was not binding.
Marosan sought $1.9 million at a settlement hearing with an administrative law judge; the college offered $15,000.
The lawsuit does not specify a dollar amount.
The college has maintained Marosan was let go because his medical degree does not meet the guidelines of the college's accrediting association.
"They fire him saying he's not qualified for a job, which is patently absurd, because he's a physician, and not only that, they hired people who had fewer qualifications than he did," Housh said.
But Grasso stated that the accrediting body required faculty members with academic degrees and that the college has been hiring full-time teachers with doctorates.
Besides, he added, the college received complaints about Marosan's teaching and his conduct in the classroom.
Marosan was hired as an adjunct professor in 2003 and promoted in 2005 to a full-time faculty post, teaching anatomy, physiology and other subjects.
Marosan says in the lawsuit that starting in 2008, he began experiencing harassment and "disparate treatment" at Trocaire, including pejorative comments from the Rev. Robert M. Mock, who at the time was an associate dean.
Marosan also accused Mock, who is a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, of orchestrating a false allegation of sexual harassment against Marosan.
The lawsuit states Marosan passed along credible evidence of the manipulation to Paul Hurley, Trocaire's president.
Mock and Thomas J. Mitchell, vice president for academic affairs, also expressed "an animus against older persons, rejecting more qualified candidates over 40 years of age, and telling faculty they wanted 'someone young,' " the lawsuit states.
Two 28-year-old men -- one with a master's degree, the other with a bachelor's degree -- were chosen as chairmen of the math and sciences and social sciences departments, the lawsuit asserts.
The college decided not to reappoint Marosan in December 2009.