Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Four Oklahoma City University law professors submitted a confidential memo to the OCU attorney in October 2007 detailing alleged discrimination and harassment incidents.
It outlines allegations of sexual harassment, pay disparity and insensitivity.
The female professors also complained the OCU law school has no regular civil rights course, criminal law classes don’t cover rape, and the landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade is only covered sporadically in constitutional law.
The memo was sparked by two incidents: the alleged sexual harassment of two female professors at Dean Lawrence Hellman’s home in July 2007 and the all-male panel chosen for a Constitution Day program in September 2007.
"These incidents caused us to summarize and verbalize our longstanding belief that the OCU law faculty exhibit discriminatory attitudes and behavior that are harming and have harmed our professional careers and quality of life,” the women wrote . . . .
The memo notes the lack of women on a faculty appointment committee, which regularly included two university professors who are "openly hostile” to the idea of giving special consideration for women and minorities.
Some interesting questions raised by this memo: does the lack of course offerings, or the coverage of certain topics, evidence gender discrimination? How about if a law school panel or a faculty committee does not contain any female professors? Of course, these questions must be answered in the larger context of the work environment, but they are interesting allegations nonetheless.
Wondering how this "confidential" memo made its way into the news media?
The memo, which is dated Oct. 10, 2007, was included with the Dec. 2 discrimination lawsuit filed in federal court in Oklahoma City by professor Danne Johnson.
Johnson is one of the women responsible for the memo, but the rest of the names in it have been blacked out.
This case has the potential of causing waves in the law school world, so I plan to further updates as they become available.
Hat Tip: Jack Sargent