Recent Decisions- UNIVERSITIES & OTHER INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING

Article excerpt

Employment and Dismissal - Faculty

Assistant professor at nursing school sued university claiming breach of employment contract. Assistant professor applied for tenure and was denied. Held: For the university. Because the proper procedures for tenure application were followed, and the university did not change the standards for tenure after she was hired, the university did not breach the employment contract by denying her tenure. Shepard v. Temple U., 948 A.2d 852 (Pa. Super. 2008).

Professor brought suit against college claiming he was denied fair hearing before his termination as a public employee. According to an arbitration decision, professor was wrongly terminated. Subsequently, he was reinstated and awarded back pay. However, he continued to seek a remedy for being denied the proper procedure prior to his termination. Held: For the college. Although arbitration officer found no just basis for termination of the professor, the charges against him were not completely unfounded. Thus, professor had no further remedies or claims for damages. Jackson v. Norman, 264 Fed. Appx. 17 (1st Cir. 2008).

Professor sued university for breach of contract and violation of right to property. After university discovered professor failed to disclose affair with student during his previous employment, a recommendation for tenure-track was revoked. Held: For the university. Professor failed to exhaust administrative remedies and, therefore, breach of contract claim is dismissed. Additionally, professor had no property claim because he does not have a constitutional property interest in continuing employment. Suddith v. U. of S. Miss., 977 So. 2d 1158 (Miss. App. 2007).

Professor sued university alleging Title VII discrimination based on sex. Professor interviewed for a position and was not hired. Held: For the university. University was able to establish non-discriminatory reasons for not hiring the professor, particularly inexperience, whereas potential employee did not provide any direct evidence of discrimination. Alvarez-Diemer v. U. ofTex.-El Paso, 258 Fed. Appx. 689 (5th Cir. 2007).

Professor sued university alleging it retaliated against her after she filed complaint that she was target of discrimination due to her national origin. University had required professor to undergo counseling and probationary period of employment both before and after filing of complaint. Held: For the university. The law protects those who file complaints from retaliation from employers. However, professor could not demonstrate that actions of university after she filed her complaint were materially adverse to her. In addition, she showed no evidence that those actions were related to the filing of her complaint. Recio v. Creighton U., 521 F.3d 934 (8th Cir. 2008).

Employment and Dismissal - Other Employees

Administrative assistant brought suit against college for improper termination. During a staff meeting, assistant engaged in a heated argument and profanity was used by her and a coworker. Held: For the college. Employer had legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for terminating her, namely the inappropriate behavior; thus, termination was not retaliatory. Middleton v. Metro. College of NY, 545 F. Supp. 2d 369 (S. D.N. Y. 2008).

Former employee sued school alleging discrimination based on sex. Employee argued that the failure to increase her wages, while a pay raise was given to two male housekeepers, was based on sex. Held: For the school. Male employees received a pay increase after it was discovered they were promised higher wages based on experience. Thus, school established that the pay differential was based on a factor other than sex discrimination. Thomas v. Community College of Philadelphia, 553 F. Supp. 2d 511 (E.D. Pa. 2008).

Employee filed grievance against university after his termination. Employee asked student to pose in "short shorts" for boxing club calendar. Student reported incident to university. …