Esteban Sarmiento is a primatologist and biologist. He is noted for his work in primate anthropology and for appearing on the Monster Quest television series.
Sarmiento earned a biological anthropology PhD in 1985, and from then until at least 2008 he worked as a research associate at the American Museum of Natural History. His main field of study is the skeletons of hominoids, both extinct and living species. From 2002 to 2004 he was a Fulbright scholar teaching physiology at Eduardo Mondlane University in Mozambique.
Presently he heads the Human Evolution Foundation whose main goal is to understand humanity's place in nature. and fight to end to racial discrimination at Public Universities.
Sarmiento is one of the few mainstream experts to give serious attention to cryptozoology, particularly reports of Bigfoot. Sarmiento does not suggest that the existence of Bigfoot has been established, but that its existence is possible and that claims and evidence deserve careful scrutiny. He has stated: "If the animal in the P&G film [Bigfoot] is real, this animal is exceedingly human-like ... It would be our closest relative on earth.” He has appeared on several episodes of the History Channel series Monster Quest discussing Bigfoot and other "cryptids."
Legal actions against racial discrimination at public Universities
In his quest to confront racial discrimination at US public institutions Sarmiento filed a lawsuit against Queens College claiming that the college's refusal to grant him interviews in 1999 and 2000 for associate professor employment was motivated by racial discrimination, and thus a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In 2005, a U.S. District Court ruled against Sarmiento. The court noted that while Sarmiento was qualified for the job, Queens College demonstrated that other candidates were more qualified, and race was not a factor in their decisions. For example, among the job requirements was an emphasis on human anatomy and anthropology, while Sarmiento's emphasis had been on non-human primates. The court also ruled that Sarmiento submitted inadequate syllabi, and and other candidates had superior teaching experience. Later in 2005, an appeals court upheld the district court decision. In reaching its ruling the judge engaged in a result driven decision. Although the judge claimed Sarmiento had an emphasis on non-human primates Sarmiento had more publications on human anatomy than any other candidate. In fact the person that was given the position has never authored a paper on human anatomy. Moreover Sarmiento had more teaching experience in human anatomy than any of the other candidates that applied for the position including 2 years teaching at Queens College. Finally, Sarmiento had sent a full application as requested in the advertisement. All of the judge's claims as to the shortcomings of Sarmiento's record were unfounded and not supported by the evidence submitted to the court. Moreover, the judge did not explain why Sarmiento's application had been so wrongly evaluated by Queens Anthropology department's internal memorandum so that they had erred in summarizing three-quarters of Sarmiento's qualifications with all the errors impacting his application negatively and never positively.
Upon hearing that Montclair University had interviewed two black women to fulfill minority quotas but had no intentions of hiring them, Sarmiento filed a similar lawsuit against Montclair State University. Again he alleged racial discrimination as a factor in a 2001 hiring procedure. The court ruled that Montclair established that another applicant was better qualified for the position due to her specialty in medical anthropology, and that race was not a factor in Montclair's hiring decision. While the candidate Montclair ultimately hired did not have her PhD at the time of interviews, she was scheduled to earn her doctorate by the time employment would have begun, in line with Montclair hiring procedure. Once again the court engaged in a result driven decision. None of the candidates chosen to interview, which in this case were two black and one white women had a Ph.D. at the time of the interview. Moreover, the white woman chosen for the position did not have a Ph.D. at the time she began working, working for nearly a full year before receiving a Ph.D. A Ph.D was a clear requirement on the Montclair circular advertising the position. The judge dismissed the case on a technicality, i.e. the expert witness statement and opinion outlining why Sarmiento was a better fit for the advertised position was not notarized and could not be accepted. Although the defense had not objected to the document being entered the judge did not allow the plaintiff to resubmit the notarized opinion and disregarded it in the court's decision.
With the burden of discrimination the court placed on Sarmiento to bring both cases to trial no discrimination suit could ever prevail. Among other things, the courts disregarded the qualifications the circular advertising the position requested and the expert witness testimony as to Sarmiento's superior qualifications. The courts, therefore, offer no relief for employment discrimination at public universities and institutions. Notably, no such suits have gone to trial, although it is clear from hiring percentages at these institutions that discrimination exists. Sarmiento is committed to bringing racial discrimination at public institutions to light. He sees a future in which the courts will offer the right to a trial and relief to victims of racial discrimination at public institutions.