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UMKC settles lawsuits with professor who alleged retaliation

August 29, 2019

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A University of Missouri-Kansas City associate professor whose complaints led to the eventual ouster of a top pharmacy professor has agreed to a $360,000 settlement of two lawsuits he filed alleging that university officials retaliated against him because of his allegations.

The University of Missouri system’s governing board reached the settlement with Mirdul Murkherji, of Lenexa, Kansas, two weeks before a trial was scheduled to begin on Murkherji’s complaints of employment discrimination and work harassment, The Kansas City Star reported.

Murkherji’s attorney, Gerald Gray, could not discuss the settlement terms but said Murkherji is “happy with the outcome and that he retained his job at UMKC.”

In lawsuits filed in 2016 and 2018, Murkherji, claimed his former boss, Ashim Mitra, was abusive to him and others who had reported Mitra to school officials. The lawsuits also claimed university officials retaliated against Murkherji for complaining that Mitra mistreated foreign students.

Mitra was suspended in November after an investigation by the Star found he had for decades used doctoral candidates from India who were in the U.S. on student visas as servants by forcing them to house sit, clean and serve food at social functions. Some of the students said they agreed to work for Mitra, who had brought the university millions of dollars in research grants, because he had the power to force them out of school, which would cost them their visas.

Murkherji discussed the problems with the newspaper and mentioned the mistreatment of the students in his lawsuit, which prompted a university investigation.

Mitra resigned in March after the university alleged in a lawsuit that he had stolen a student’s research and secretly sold it to a pharmaceutical company, costing the school millions of dollars.

Last Friday, the university fired Anil Kumar, who until last year was chairman of the school’s pharmacology division. The university has refused to say what led to the firing because it was a personnel decision.

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Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com

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