Former assistant professor with PTSD sues San Juan College

Cosmetology professor alleges hostile work environment

Megan Petersen
Farmington Daily Times
The Board of Trustees at San Juan College faces a lawsuit from a former assistant professor of cosmetology who alleges employment discrimination.
  • Dianna White began working as an assistant professor of cosmetology at San Juan College in 2010.
  • White was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after the death of her child.
  • White was forced to resign in order to seek medical treatment, the complaint states.

FARMINGTON — A former San Juan College assistant professor has filed a civil complaint against the college’s Board of Trustees for claims of employment discrimination.

Former Farmington resident Dianna White filed the complaint on Dec. 8 in Eleventh Judicial Court.

White, who is now a California resident, began working for the college in 2010, according to the complaint. She was an assistant professor of cosmetology, according to Rhonda Schaefer, senior director of marketing and public relations for the college. She was listed as an employee in the college's 2017-18 academic catalog

Schaefer said San Juan College is restricted from commenting on personnel matters.

White’s attorneys, Donald Gilpin and Christopher Machin of the Gilpin Law Firm in Albuquerque, did not respond to requests for comment.

White was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after the death of her child, a disability that limited her ability to concentrate, sleep and work, the complaint states.

Though the college accommodated her medical restrictions for more than four years, White’s colleagues “began subjecting her to a hostile work environment” after she missed work due to medical appointments and her husband’s several surgeries in the fall of 2016, the complaint states. White’s co-workers allegedly made derogatory comments about her, negative comments about her dead son and threatened to poison her.

The college conducted an investigation after White complained to her director, but no action was taken against her co-workers, and the director began to belittle White during meetings, according to the complaint. White was told she couldn’t miss any more work regardless of her disability and was denied time off to seek medical treatment, eventually forcing her to resign from her position so she could seek medical treatment.

White is seeking compensatory damages, including wages, pension and benefits, “that would make her whole for all earnings she would have received but for (the college’s) discriminatory and unlawful behavior,” as well attorney’s fees, damages for “mental anguish and humiliation,” and any other relief.

Megan Petersen covers business and education for The Daily Times. Reach her at 505-564-4621 or