Former Lancaster Bible College student, school settles discrimination lawsuit | Local News

A former Lancaster Bible College student and the school have settled her federal lawsuit in which she claimed she faced discrimination because she is black.

Pilisa Mackey sued the school in September 2021. A year earlier, she helped organize and participated in a protest against the school over allegations of racial inequality, and she organized an online petition demanding accountability.

The settlement of the case was noted in a Feb. 16 filing with the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia. The details are not public; Lancaster Bible College is a private school.

Mackey was seeking over $50,000 in damages. She claimed to have suffered humiliation, embarrassment and emotional distress.

Mackey’s attorneys were unavailable and did not respond to a request for comment.

University Vice President Lee DeRemer said in a statement Tuesday, “Ms. Mackey and Lancaster Bible College met voluntarily to negotiate a resolution to their dispute. The parties negotiated in good faith and were able to reach an agreement that will allow all parties to move forward No further public statements will be made by Ms. Mackey or Lancaster Bible College on this matter.

In her costume, Mackey, a theater major, claimed she was cast in stereotypical black roles, such as a homeless man and a maid, and lead roles were only given to Whites. In court documents filed last year denying Mackey’s allegations, the school said Mackey auditioned specifically for the role of a homeless man in a production of Mary Poppins and celebrated getting the role.

Mackey also claimed to have spoken to her department chair, Paul Thorlakson, about the difficulties she was having with the “white curriculum”, program choices, and racist comments from students. Thorlakson told her she came across as aggressive and had an attitude problem, the suit said.

The school’s response last year also said it had previously found Mackey’s complaint about Thorlakson credible and that he had written an apology to her and the incident had been included in his personnel file.