Monday, August 13, 2012

Does Tenure Mean Continuous Employment?

No, according to the Sixth Circuit. From the Chronicle of Higher Education (excerpts)”:

A federal appellate court has sided with a private law school in a case brought by a professor who contends she was wrongly fired, and both sides say the ruling is important for how it defines the concept of tenure.

The decision, issued on Monday by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, upholds a lower court's ruling that the termination of Lynn. S. Branham, former associate dean and professor at Thomas M. Cooley Law School, was not improper.

Ms. Branham had held a one-year teaching contract with the Michigan law school and was dismissed in December 2006, the final month of her contract year. A U.S. District Court decided the case in the law school's favor.

On appeal, Ms. Branham had argued, among other things, that the lower court had erred in concluding "that the tenure granted under her contract does not afford her rights beyond those specified in her employment contract."

She pointed to a law-school policy and to a guideline from the American Bar Association to support her assertion that, under her contract, "tenure means a lifetime appointment or a guarantee of continuous employment."

The Sixth Circuit panel rejected her arguments. Its opinion states that her contract referred to "the concept of tenure" but did not define tenure as a right to continuous employment or "create an obligation" of such.

The Chronicle article gives more of  the facts, but I suspect that there is a back story here, though I don’t know whom it would favor.


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