Friday, October 2, 2009
Eskridge Alleges Not Being Given Tenure by UVA Law Based in Part on Sexual Orientation
As the country takes in the Letterman extortion scandal, I just read from Brian Leiter's Law Reports about Yale Law School Professor WIlliam Eskridge telling Congress that he was denied tenure at Virginia Law in part because of sexual orientation discrimination.
This blog has the relevant excerpt from the testimony by William Eskridge, Jr. (Yale); it also contains a link to the full testimony (the relevant portion is on pp. 85 ff.).
Mores specifically, Eskridge was testifying about the need and legality of the proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) last week and said:
For an example explained in my statement, I was denied tenure at the University of Virginia School of Law in 1985 based in part on my sexual orientation. The hysterical behavior and deployment of anti-gay epithets by key state officials indicates that the decision was influenced by anti-gay prejudice. The inability of state officials to explain their decision without engaging in libel underlines the irrationality of the state discrimination and its vulnerability to equal protection attack.
I, of course, have no idea about the merit of these allegations, but if they are true what a powerful piece of testimony to support the need to protect LGBT individuals in the workplace.
Powerful? The discrimination of blacks left powerful evidence for the need to protect them in the workplace, such as signs that read "No Blacks" (or worse) and the fact that most of them were living below the poverty line, and very few were in any kind of managerial or professional occupation. The discrimination of women also left similar, powerful evidence that they needed workplace protection. The example you give is maybe somehow relevant to the discussion, but powerful?
1) This happened over 20 years ago.
2) It was according to him, "in part" because of his gender.
3) He had one of the most prestigious jobs in the country to begin with. Would women or blacks have held such a position to begin with prior to Title VII?
4) He attained an even more prestigious position. Would a black or woman have done the same prior to Title VII?
Employment discrimination laws should not be devoted to righting every wrong, they should be used to help groups that are being severely impacted in the wallet. When blacks and women achieve wage pariety, maybe we should devote some resources to making sure that law professors aren't judged by their fancies. Until then, they will just have to accept demeaning work as attorneys at law firms (which incidentally treat them very well).
Posted by: couch | Oct 2, 2009 4:43:57 PM