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Former Nursing School Employees fired for Retaliation or Competition?

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Two former Nursing School professors filed a wrongful dismissal lawsuit but in its defense the American University of Health Sciences claims they were both fired because they planned to open a competing business.

Los Angeles, CATwo former nursing school professors whose California wrongful dismissal lawsuit claims they were fired in retaliation for helping students alleging sexual harassment asked for $55 million and settled for $1.4 million. Pastor Gregory Johnson (accused of sexually inappropriate behavior) and the American University of Health Sciences denied the allegations and claimed the profs were fired after failing to cooperate with the nursing school’s investigation into their plans to start a competing school.

Plaintiffs Anita Bralock and Brandon Fryman alleged the workplace was “flooded with retaliation and intimidation” by Johnson, who founded the school with his wife in 1994. After being demoted to a part-time professor with a pay cut, Fryman (age 42 and gay) filed a complaint with the California Labor Commission and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Time Frame –According to Proceedings


The lawsuit, Anita Bralock vs American University of Health Sciences, was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts in August 2019, but events leading to the trial started four years earlier.

June 2011: Bralock, age 64, was promoted to dean of the nursing school. She was hired as a professor and associate dean in 2010.

June 2014: Fryman, age 42, was promoted to a full-time professor -- he began teaching at AUHS in 2012 as an adjunct faculty member.

August 2015: A student of Fryman's told him that Johnson was sexually harassing her. Fryman tried to address the complaint informally, and held an off-campus meeting to discuss. Johnson's wife and AUHS co-founder Kim Dang learned of the accusations.

Joyce Giger, then president of AUHS, began investigating student complaints with Fryman and Bralock. Johnson was asked to stop unnecessary contact with students, faculty and staff. (Johnson was accused of hugging and kissing students against their will and sexualized the school's environment by placing inappropriate magazines outside his office and of telling women how to dress and how to do their hair and of denigrating gay people—Fryman is gay.)

September 2015: Johnson demoted Fryman, who had just been promoted to a full-time general education professor, and cut his pay.

Mid-September: Fryman emailed Johnson that he believed he was being retaliated against. Fryman was demoted to a part-time professor and wages were reduced.

October 2015: Bralock and Fryman were suspended and Giger resigned on the same day. Two more students came forward with allegations of sexual harassment.

AUHS personnel met with Fryman and Bralock about an alleged nursing school business plan by a former AUHS educator, Dr. Okezie Aruoma. Bralock and Fryman allegedly knew about the plan or were involved.

AUHS learned Fryman had filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint.

December 2015: AUHS cut off Bralock and Fryman's health care and other benefits.

February 2016: Bralock and Fryman were fired “on the pretext that they cheated on the basis of false allegations that they did not cooperate in an investigation into a competing school that didn’t  exist anymore.

The Nursing School and Religion


The American University of Health Sciences (AUHS) is a small Christian university with 300 students who are trained to be health care professionals. The institution is founded around religion, and people went to AUHS for that reason But plaintiffs’ attorney Twila White said Johnson "ruined their faith in God and religion."

On its website, AUHS describes itself as a “minority-serving university of higher education” and “welcomes students of diverse backgrounds and prepares them to make a positive impact on society through the provision of exceptional quality patient-centered care within the context of a global perspective of the human condition.”

“American University of Health Sciences operates in service to the core Christian principles, ethics and belief that all people have a right to healthcare and deserve a good quality of life based on wellness of body, mind and spirit. The school, students and its graduates, serve underprivileged communities with respect, care and an ongoing faith in their higher purpose. We believe in serving God in all things we do…By so doing, our graduates are serving man via their good works and highest ethical standards, essential for success in today’s healthcare industries. This philosophy permeates the entire educational experience at AUHS, and is a springboard for satisfying lifelong healthcare career.”

The Outcome—So Far


Defendant lawyer Andrew Smith said the student allegations against Johnson were determined to be uncorroborated after an investigation led by a school administrator. However, those results were turned over to an “independent investigator” for further review since that administrator reported to Johnson.

Smith said that neither Bralock nor Fryman suffered any professional consequences as a result of their termination. Bralock was soon hired as a nursing professor at UCLA and Fryman worked a number of teaching jobs in the Seattle area and has also opened a business.

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