University Researcher Fired Based On Vague Allegations From 3 Women. Now He’s Suing.

 A University of North Carolina researcher was fired after three women made vague, non-sexual allegations against him — he’s now suing, alleging that the university violated its own policies when firing him and provided him little to no chance to defend himself.

Christopher Wretman received his undergraduate, master’s, and doctorate from UNC and was hired as a senior data analyst for the university in 2017. His main job was research, but he also taught as an adjunct faculty member at the university’s School of Social Work. His work focused on the disadvantages of the young and old, and economic and social inequities.

While obtaining his doctorate, Wretman says he fell in love with faculty member Dr. Rebecca Macy, and the two have owned a home together since 2020. The school approved their relationship, and the two worked on research projects together once Wretman was hired by the university, his lawsuit says.

In 2020, Wretman, Macy, and others were working on a plan to develop a research center, and the university hired Jia Luo as a research program manager to work under Macy. This team also collaborated with other faculty and students at UNC, including doctoral student Sarah Godoy and former student Erin Meehan.

During the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement that year, the School of Social Work adopted policies to root out alleged inequalities, leading to what Wretman described as a “call-out-culture” advocating for the community to report any suspected discrimination. This, combined with universities already existing Title IX policies regarding sex discrimination, created a system where people could accuse others of indiscretion without having to provide evidence to back up their claims, almost always leading to punishment of the accused.

According to the court filing, in April 2021, Godoy, the doctoral student who occasionally worked with Wretman and Macy, told UNC’s associate dean for doctoral education that she had concerns about the way her superiors communicated with her, in particular, Wretman. The dean reported these concerns to the school’s Title IX office, but Wretman does not know the actual content of the allegations or how the report was handled.

In early May 2021, Wretman and Macy were first alerted to these concerns when they were invited to a meeting with the school’s Title IX director of compliance. In Wretman’s lawsuit, he says contemporaneous emails show his and Macy’s “communications and interactions with Godoy had been constructive and positive throughout their work together.”

When Wretman inquired about the nature of this meeting, he was told that if he refused to participate, the university would involve his superiors, pressuring him to attend.

In a separate meeting, Macy was told that Godoy was uncomfortable with the team’s close relationships and that she had claimed Wretman made inappropriate comments. Macy was told to restructure the research so that Godoy would no longer have to communicate with Wretman. Because of the information Macy was given, UNC violated its policy about keeping such matters private since the meetings concerned Wretman and not Macy. Conversely, Godoy’s allegations reportedly referred to the team’s communications, but Wretman, the only male on the team, was the university’s sole focus.

During his own meeting, Wretman was told he behaved poorly even though no investigation had been done and no evidence was presented to back up Godoy’s allegations. He says in his lawsuit that he was told “to comport himself more appropriately as a straight White male.” Other than that, he was told the issue was resolved.

Wretman and Macy then worked out a plan so that Godoy wouldn’t have to work with them but could keep her name on all research projects. Godoy indicated in an email that she agreed to this.

But later Godoy apparently had dinner with Luo, who had been hired as the team’s program manager. During this dinner, Wretman alleges that Godoy claimed she was removed from the research team as if it was against her will and not something she agreed to. After this dinner, even though she had never raised any concerns about the team before, Luo claimed to Macy that she had experienced anti-Asian hate while working with the team. She placed the blame on Wretman’s communication style, according to his lawsuit.

Luo also claimed that others had concerns about Wretman without offering details.

It was Macy who reported Luo’s concerns about herself, Wretman, and the rest of the team to the university.

According to the lawsuit, Macy told Wretman about all of this and suggested he step back from work activities to protect himself.

Luo also reached out to Macy requesting to work remotely for fear that Wretman would retaliate against her, providing no evidence that he would do so. She also claimed to be stressed due to trauma stemming from this alleged “anti-Asian violence.”

Several months later, a third allegation was made, this time by Meehan, the former student who collaborated with the research team. Macy was Meehan’s internship supervisor, and never raised any concerns with Macy about anyone on the team. Wretman says in his lawsuit that emails show his communications with Meehan were “constructive and positive throughout their work together.”

Wretman had provided a reference for Meehan to work at a non-profit organization after her internship ended, but after Luo made her allegations, he emailed Meehan rescinding his offer to help her get this new job. Wretman’s reason for doing so was that he was afraid of more allegations when trying to help female researchers.

Meehan would later make a report against Wretman to the university, but it is unknown what allegations she made.

Even though the allegations seem vague and thin on evidence, the school investigated the claims against Wretman and determined he was responsible and should be terminated. To get to that conclusion, Wretman says in his lawsuit that the school ignored its own policies, never informing him about the process, breaking deadlines, and allowing his accusers to discuss matters with other people. Further, the vague nature of Luo’s allegations shouldn’t have amounted to an abusive or hostile workplace (she alleged he was overly critical of her work and her in meetings and was passive-aggressive and condescending, though she apparently provided no evidence, according to Wretman).


The school also decided to investigate Wretman for bullying based on Luo’s allegations and allowed her feelings to dictate Wretman’s guilt. The school, according to Wretman, provided no evidence that he had been vindictive or intended to intimidate or humiliate Luo.

While much of the information in Wretman’s lawsuit came from the school’s report on its investigation into him, he writes that the report lacks substantial information about how it justified its investigations and the evidence provided by the three women. The document, according to Wretman, provides “no documentation or information detailing a rationale that Meehan provided sufficient allegations or evidence of a University policy violation to warrant an investigation of Wretman.” He writes something similar about the allegations of the other two women.

Wretman alleges the school violated its Title IX policies and denied him due process, among other claims. He is seeking more than $50,000 in damages.

University Researcher Fired Based On Vague Allegations From 3 Women. Now He’s Suing. University Researcher Fired Based On Vague Allegations From 3 Women. Now He’s Suing. Reviewed by Your Destination on March 22, 2024 Rating: 5

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