A woman has sued the Getty Foundation alleging she was turned down for its Multicultural Undergraduate Internship because she is white.

Samantha Neimann filed the discrimination lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court on April 29 where she accused the Getty of violating her civil rights, racial discrimination and harassment, plus retaliation. Niemann seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

Racial Discrimination Can Happen to Anyone

The discrimination suit states that Niemann “was deterred from applying” for the Getty Foundation’s Multicultural Undergraduate Internship program. Niemann was also told that only black, Asian, Latino, Native-American and Pacific Islander candidates were eligible for the internship.

Niemann who is of German, Irish, and Italian descent was also informed by a Getty representative that she was disqualified from applying because of her national origin and race – despite being “well-qualified” for the internship (the lawsuit states that Niemann had a 3.7 grad-point average at Southern Utah University).

Both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) protect individuals from unlawful discrimination – regardless of their race or national origin.

Getty Modified Eligibility Requirements for the Internship Several Months Ago

The Getty Foundation’s website states that their Multicultural Undergraduate Internship program encourages “greater diversity in the professions related to museums and the visual arts” and that it supports “substantive, full-time summer work opportunities for college undergraduates from cultural backgrounds that have traditionally been underrepresented in the arts.”

Ron Hartwig, who is vice president of communications for the J. Paul Getty Trust, responded to the lawsuit saying, “Over the past 23 years Getty grants have supported over 3,000 internships at 152 organizations throughout the county. We review and revise all of our grant categories from time to time and over the years have made a number of policy and procedural changes to the internship program.”

And the Getty did just that several months ago by modifying the internship’s eligibility criteria for 2016. It now states that applicants must be members of an underrepresented group; including but not limited to students who are black, Asian, Latino, Native-American or Pacific Islander descent.

Niemann’s Discrimination Suit Falls Outside the Norm

Many race-based admissions lawsuits that white students have filed against public universities generally involve the government. However, Niemann’s suit is against a private foundation and is a unique situation because the Getty is using its own money to fund the internship rather than public funds.

The Getty has also accepted at least one white student previously, which may not help Niemann’s case. Still, if it is decided in court, the outcome could very well affect the manner in which private foundations attempt to resolve diversity issues.

Adapted from original article, Why a white woman’s discrimination lawsuit against the Getty is no joke and could set a precedent via LATimes.com

If you think your civil rights have been violated due to reverse race or national origin discrimination in California, our expert attorneys are here to fight for your rights. Contact the California civil rights attorneys at Hennig Ruiz for your free consultation.