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University of Texas history professor Alberto Martínez released details about his pending lawsuit against his employer with Austonia, revealing a more thorough look into the events that led to him taking action against the university.
The incident occurred in 2018, after Martínez brought a supposed race-related pay discrepancy to the attention of his supervisor, whom Martínez said then retaliated and accused him of inappropriate conduct in numerous fashions. Both UT's Office of Inclusion and Equity, or OIE, and Martínez say the supervisor's accusations are false.
In an interview with Austonia, Martínez detailed the incident from his perspective and said that he believes this is a pattern of behavior from the university and that he has reason to believe it may be a problem in other departments as well.
"I know employees who mute their problems because they fear retaliation," Martínez said. "The American workplace culture at UT runs on compliments and self-praise, so if one raises frank critiques then some persons quickly become uncomfortable. One faculty colleague had advised me to accept that departments are 'consultative dictatorships,' as I note in the lawsuit."
In his report, Martínez said that none of the Hispanic or Black professors had been appointed to leadership positions that involved pay raises and course releases in 15 consecutive years. Furthermore, it found that few Hispanic professors were appointed to chairs of committees and many, including him, were underpaid.
The university's Hispanic Equity Report of 2019 showed that Hispanic full professors, as opposed to professors of relatively lower ranks, were paid 12% less than their non-Hispanic white counterparts, on average, even though they tended to exceed them in productivity.
"Worse, I know of multiple Hispanic faculty who privately complain of disturbing incidents of apparent disparate treatment, but most do not publicly complain because of fear of retaliation from Department Chairs and Deans," Martínez said.
Martínez was reported to the OIE by his supervisor under accusations of creating a toxic work environment, anti-Semitic statements, inappropriate conduct with graduate students, denigrating women colleagues and sexual misconduct.
Martínez was not aware that he had been accused of sexual misconduct or making anti-Semitic statements until after he had undergone two in-person interviews with OIE and waited 16 months for results. OIE found all of the supervisor's accusations to be unsubstantiated.
"I was not fully informed and therefore lost my right to fully defend myself against offensively false allegations," Martínez said. "Instead, I only found that out when OIE sent me their final Report of Investigation."
After the investigation, Martínez filed a formal complaint at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Texas Workforce Commission in September 2019. Notably, Martínez informed the OIE of retaliation five separate times and informed the senior vice provosts for faculty affairs and for diversity.
In response to the incident, UT issued this statement:
"The university continues its work to review and address concerns related to faculty compensation. Professor Martinez is a member of the university's Equity Review Process Consultative Committee where he is in a position to participate in the university-wide initiative to review salary differences, understand bases for differences, and offer feedback. We look forward to continuing this important work. The university will address Martinez's allegations about his individual situation in our response to his EEOC charge and our filings in the lawsuit."
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After reaching Stage 4 last week of Austin Public Health's risk-based guidelines, Austin-Travis County is now at the Stage 5 threshold with a seven-day average of 50 hospitalizations and dwindling ICU capacity.
While unenforceable under Gov. Greg's Abbott order against local mandates, vaccinated individuals are asked to choose drive-through and curbside options, outdoor activities, social interactions with limited group sizes, as well as social distance and wearing masks indoors. Partially or unvaccinated individuals are asked to avoid gatherings, travel, dining and shopping, choose curbside and delivery options, as well as wear a mask on essential trips.
Flashing back to early-pandemic times, hospitals are at critical capacity—the 11 county Trauma Service Region of 2.3 million people is fluctuating at 16 staffed beds, according to APH.
In a statement on behalf of Ascension Seton, Baylor Scott & White Health and St. David's Healthcare, a spokesperson said that hospitals are asking residents to "help us and each other" by getting vaccinated and continuing to utilize safety practices to slow the spread of the virus.
According to the statement, a "longstanding" nurse staffing challenge combined with the recent COVID-19 spike is putting "extraordinary pressure" on hospital systems.
Along with the unmitigated spread of the virus in unvaccinated, the more contagious Delta variant is also to blame for the spike in cases. The seven-day moving average of COVID hospitalizations in the Austin area reached the Stage 5 threshold of 50 on Friday, triggering local health officials to ask residents to take action.
Local hospitals have a "surge plan" that includes utilization of "all available patient care space and employees within our hospitals and in other settings" that will go into effect when capacity is hit, according to the statement.
The hospitals are working on sourcing supplemental staff and emphasized that emergency care will still be available but it may involve patient transfers "in order to provide the most appropriate care."
Healthcare systems have hit this threshold previously during the pandemic: the city held an alternate care site at the Austin Convention Center from January to March of this year.
"Our responsibility during this pandemic continues to be balancing our readiness to care for patients with COVID-19, while making sure patients who depend on our hospitals receive needed and timely care," the statement said. "We do not want to see necessary non-COVID care delayed as it was during the early stages of the pandemic."
This story has been updated to after publication to include that Austin has reached the Stage 5 threshold.
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Austin legend Willie Nelson will perform at the Texas Capitol today, his first large performance since the pandemic began, closing out a four-day long march across Central Texas to build support for federal voting protections.
Organized by The Poor People's Campaign, the march began in Georgetown on Wednesday and will end with a 10 a.m. rally at the Capitol featuring appearances from former U.S. Congressman Beto O'Rourke and Rev. Dr. William Barber.
Willie Nelson (with Charlie Sexton & friends) will play a free concert at the Poor People's Campaign march for democracy & justice in Austin this Saturday! https://t.co/zZSA0BpbWA
Sign up to join us and see Willie at 10am Saturday: https://t.co/KrDPIFIvST
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) July 29, 2021
The rally calls on Congress to "stop attacks on democracy" by ending the filibuster, pass all provisions of the For the People Act, restore the 1965 Voting Rights Act, raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour and pass permanent protections for all 11 million undocumented immigrants.
Nelson denounced election law proposals gaining traction in red states, such as Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 3 in Texas, which 55 House Democrats foiled by fleeing to Washington, D.C., on July 12.
The bills would require additional ID verifications for mail-in ballots, allow partisan poll watchers "free movement" and prohibit elections officials from sending absentee ballot applications to voters who didn't request one.
"Laws making it more difficult for people to vote are unAmerican and are intended to punish people of color, the elderly and disabled," Nelson said. "If you can't win by playing the rules, then it's you and your platform–not everyone else's ability to vote."
The march is in the spirit of the Selma to Montgomery March of 1965, led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., which protested the blocking of Black Americans' right to vote by Jim Crow laws.