Thursday, May 1, 2014
A former history professor at the University of Pennsylvania is suing the school, claiming she was denied tenure because she took time off to have and care for her children.
Kristen Stromberg Childers, who taught at the Ivy League college from 2002 until 2010, contends in the federal discrimination lawsuit that her family-leave periods were the "determinative and motivating factors in the decision to deny tenure."
Childers took maternity leave during the 2003-2004 and 2007-2008 academic years for the births of her two children; she also took half-time, half-pay family leave in the 2008-2009 school year due to medical and educational issues her older child was having, the suit says.
She was denied tenure in February 2008 and again after submitting a new application in 2010.
Childers filed a grievance, and a panel in May 2011 found that the review process unfairly considered statements about the assistant professor's child-care leave in making its decision.
According to the lawsuit, the grievance panel found that the chairwoman of Penn's School of Arts and Sciences' personnel committee "inappropriately" wrote to the school's dean that "committee members found it especially hard to judge productivity in light of Dr. Stromberg Childers' family leave time and her junior leave." The dean later said in a letter that it was "difficult to give a balanced assessment" of the professor's productivity "because of the amount of family leave she has had."