A discrimination complaint made against the University of Texas Medical Branch by a former administrator last year has become a full-fledged lawsuit in federal court.

Howard Brody, the former director of the medical branch’s Institute of Medical Humanities, filed a civil rights complaint against the medical branch in January 2016 with the Texas Workforce Commission.

Brody’s attorney, Katherine Mize, said the complaint was the first step in getting permission to file a lawsuit, which Brody did in December in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

Brody asserts he was unfairly punished by his superiors at the medical branch in the aftermath of a sexual harassment complaint in his department, according to the lawsuit.

A medical branch spokesman declined to comment, citing policies about speaking about ongoing litigation.

Two graduate students in March 2014 filed a sexual harassment complaint against a professor in the department, according to the lawsuit.

The two women met with Brody before filing the complaint, and he said he advised them of their rights to make a complaint.

Brody himself was not accused of harassment. The accused professor resigned two months after the complaint was made, according to the lawsuit.

Brody said he was made the target of a “supplemental investigation,” during which he was accused of not reporting other complaints against the professor made between 2011 and 2014.

Brody contends he never received direct complaints about the professor, but rather that he was told by other people that they were “personally aware of concerns” about the professor. The hearsay, he said, did not rise to the medical branch’s mandatory reporting requirements.

Over his objections, Brody was removed from his director’s position, told to take a one-year leave of absence — during which he was barred from his office. His $271,177 salary was reduced to $141,238. He also was required to attend a training course in Atlanta, at his own expense, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit argues that the medical branch bullied Brody into quitting his job.

“UTMB made Howard Brody’s work so miserable that he was constructively terminated,” the lawsuit wore. “Unable to stand it anymore, and unable to continue in his activities due to UTMB’s actions, Howard Brody was compelled to resign.”

He is seeking lost wages and other compensation, as well as punitive damages. Brody also asked for a jury trial.

Last month, district court Judge George Hanks gave the medical branch until May 3 to file a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. He also tentatively scheduled a jury trial to begin in October 2018.

Contact reporter John Wayne Ferguson at 409-683-5226 or john.ferguson@galvnews.com. Follow him on Twitter, @johnwferguson.

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