rowan turkey

An employee of New Jersey-based Rowan University will possibly be subjected to disciplinary proceedings after he was found guilty of mimicking the accent of an Indian American co-worker. (rowan.edu photo)

When Rowan University found one of its employees, identified only as A.K., guilty of mimicking the accent of an Indian American co-worker, his defense was: he was making a turkey call.

Courierpostonline.com reports that not just the school, but the state Civil Service Commission, too, has rejected that defense, exposing the employee to possible disciplinary action.

He is accused of mocking A.D., an Indian American assistant vice president, during a meal for about a dozen workers in May 2018, according to the report, which added that the commission noted five witnesses supported the allegation against A.K., an assistant supervisor in Rowan’s facilities department.

The commission, said the report, noted A.K. lacked credibility for his claim of “doing a turkey call” as he provided no context “where such noises would be made during a departmental pizza lunch.”

A school investigation into the incident found sufficient evidence to support a finding that A.K. had violated a state policy banning discrimination in the workplace, the commission said, according to the report.

It was A.K. who had appealed the school’s finding to the commission.

The Indian American employee alleged A.K. “expressed a lack of respect for his nationality/national origin by mimicking his accent in room full of other people,” the ruling said, according to Courierpostonline.com.

As part of his appeal, added the report, A.K. argued the complaint against him was retaliatory because he had previously criticized A.D. But the commission rejected those claims and upheld the school’s determination that A.K. had “created a hostile work environment in violation of state policy.”

The Glassboro, New Jersey-based university’s review recommended A.K. receive “diversity and unconscious bias training and be subject to disciplinary proceedings,” the commission said.

It also noted, added the report, that Rowan, which also found A.K. had “violated its disruptive employee policy,” had not initiated disciplinary proceedings as the school was “awaiting the outcome of this appeal.”

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