Multi-Million Dollar Lawsuit Filed Against Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated
Published: Friday, October 7, 2005
Updated: Saturday, August 9, 2008 23:08
Two Howard Alumni filed a $10 million lawsuit against Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. in US District Court for the District of Columbia on Thursday, charging that the AKAs made false allegations of hazing against them.
Joie Jolevare and Salome Tinker, both members of the sorority, claim in their lawsuit that they were unjustly suspended from the organization after assisting members of Alpha chapter in a practice in March 2005 for the group's post initiation ceremony.
The two women allege that AKA Regional Director, Joy Elaine Daley stopped the sorority's authorized practice, and began an investigation into the event on the grounds that it constituted hazing because it was held outside.
In the lawsuit Jolevare and Tinker claim that contrary to regulations outlined in the AKA Constitution, they were never informed of the allegations made against them and they were suspended without any evidence that they participated in hazing.
They are suing the organization for purposeful defamation, breach of contract, negligence, and discrimination under the District of Columbia Human Rights Act, the lawsuit said.
"The days are over when you can make false allegations against upstanding members of the community without consequences," said Jimmy Bell, the attorney representing Jolevare and Tinker.
Daley was reached at her office at 11:00 p.m., but refused to comment because she said that her office hours were over.
Bell said the actions of his clients did not warrant suspension.
According to Bell both women, who are members of the local graduate chapter Xi Omega, were asked to assist in the intake process of 2005.
Bell said that the alleged incident of hazing, however, occurred after the intake process was completed and that the new members practiced voluntarily.
"These aren't pledges," Bell said. "They are already AKAs."
He said the practice obviously was not mandatory because 12 of the 137 women who crossed last semester did not attend the event. Furthermore, Bell said it was not unreasonable for the practice to be held outside because it involved such a large group of people.
Bell also claims the allegations are frivolous because the AKA anti-hazing handbook "Just Say 'No' to Hazing" defines hazing as physical acts and or threats, none of which he said occurred according to the AKAs who were present at the practice. He said the nature of the alleged false claims made against the plaintiffs warrant the lawsuit.
"When you're saying my clients are [participating in hazing], you're saying they committed crimes," Bell said. "In the work force all you have is your integrity."
National AKA representatives were unable to be reached for comment. Alpha Chapter president Kimberely Mitchell also declined to comment.
Bell said he would like see an expeditious end to this conflict.
"I'm hopeful that the national office will resolve this matter," Bell said. "In the event that they do not we are confident a DC jury will resolve it and make my clients whole."