An actress who had a role in the 1981 film "Zoot Suit" sued Pomona College Tuesday, claiming she lost her job as assistant professor of theater because she is a Latina.
Alma Martinez filed her lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging wrongful termination as well as national origin and gender discrimination. She seeks unspecified damages.
Mark Wood, senior director of communications for Pomona College, reacted to the lawsuit.
"Pomona College has one of the most diverse faculties, in terms of both gender and race, of any college of its type in the country," Wood said. "The tenure review process at Pomona is designed to be both exhaustive and fair. However, since this matter is now under litigation and involves private information about a former employee, we cannot comment further."
According to the lawsuit, Martinez was employed by the college for about six years. In September 2011, the school's Department of Theatre and Dance recommended that she be promoted to associate professor with tenure, the suit states.
Martinez had the qualifications needed for the upgrade in her employment status but, in January, she was denied tenure and told she would be fired, the suit states. Her last day was June 30, according to her complaint.
"Zoot Suit" depicted the Los Angeles-based Sleepy Lagoon trials in which Latino youths were wrongly convicted of murder. It also chronicled riots involving U.S. servicemen and Latinos wearing zoot suits.
In addition to a film career, Martinez, 60, has had stage and television roles. She played Sgt. Elizabeth Cruz in "The New Adam-12" television series that ran from 1989-91.
With a doctorate in drama from Stanford University, she is one of a few Hollywood actresses to have attained such an education. She is being represented in her lawsuit by lawyers from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.
— City News Service.