Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Second discimination suit this year by a legal writing prof

Back in May, we reported on the case of a St. Mary's School of Law LRW prof who was suing the Texas school for alleged age and gender discrimination when it failed to renew her contract.  Now comes this story courtesy of the Law Librarian Blog (yet another reason to subscribe to it) about a University of Iowa LRW prof candidate who is suing the school alleging she was denied the job due to her conservative political beliefs.  A copy of the complaint can be found here as well as a more detailed account of the case here courtesy of fire.org.  The applicant in question, Teresa Wagner, had previously been offered a tenure track job at Ave Marie School of Law before its move from Michigan to Naples, Florida (and also had prior experience as an adjunct LRW prof at George Mason). 

In addition to being the second discrimination suit brought by a LRW prof in the past four months, it's the second employment discrimination suit brought against the U. of Iowa School of Law in the past couple of weeks

Here's a description of Ms. Wagner's claim courtesy of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education:

In the fall of 2006, Wagner applied for one of two openings at the College of Law for a full-time Writing Instructor position, for which "prior successful law school teaching" experience was listed as a qualification. According to her complaint, prior to Wagner's second faculty interview for this position, she was advised by the Associate Dean of the law school to "conceal her affiliation" with Ave Maria School of Law from voting faculty members.  Despite having the necessary teaching experience in her background, as well as the fact that her interview and presentation to faculty were complimented by several faculty members, Wagner was passed over for the full-time position. As alleged in Wagner's complaint, there may have been some impermissible reasons for this:  

Associate Dean Carlson informed Plaintiff Wagner that Professor Randy Bezanson had been the one to speak against her appointment as the Writing Instructor during the faculty appointments meeting.    ...   Professor Bezanson was a law clerk to former United States Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, author of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion and which Plaintiff Wagner's career has protested. Professor Bezanson was Justice Blackmun's law clerk during the term that Roe v. Wade was written.

Wagner was allegedly informed by Dean Carlson that Bezanson "had not liked" her presentation and had mentioned her class rank and grade point average as alleged disqualifying factors for the first time, despite the fact that these, unlike prior teaching experience, were not listed criteria.   When Wagner subsequently applied for an Adjunct Writing Instructor position, she again was passed over for similar reasons:  

Associate Dean Carlson informed Plaintiff Wagner that Professor Bezanson had again spoken out against her candidacy and that a minority of voting faculty can block appointments.    ...  

The law faculty had hired three Writing Instructor Adjuncts with no prior law school teaching experience, including one who had just graduated from law school, Steven Moeller.

As it turns out, Moeller was a research assistant for the same Professor Bezanson.

To make matters even worse, the candidate who had been offered the full-time position, Matt Williamson, had no prior law school teaching experience before being hired as an adjunct at Iowa, had never practiced law, had no published works, and even admitted to Wagner and others that he was not qualified to be a writing instructor. In fact, he offered to resign after his first semester of full-time teaching and did resign after his second semester. Wagner, meanwhile, was allegedly told by Dean Carlson, despite her qualifications, that she "should no longer apply for open full-time or Adjunct Writing Instructor positions."

I am the scholarship dude.



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