home

New Cases and Developments

NACUA's Legal Resources staff summarizes current higher education cases and developments and provides the full text of selected cases to members. New cases and developments are archived here for up to 12 months.  Cases provided by Fastcase, Inc.

Dates
New Search
Retaliation; Race and National Origin Discrimination; Discrimination, Accommodation, & Diversity

Phillips v. Prince George’s Community College, et al. (D. Md. Feb. 12, 2018)

Memorandum and Opinion granting Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss with prejudice.  Plaintiff, an Associate Professor at Prince George’s County Community College (PGCC), alleged that PGCC created a racially hostile environment and retaliated against him when the Department Chair accused him of unprofessional conduct, gave him a difficult teaching schedule, put him on a Performance Improvement Plan, and allegedly corralled employees to file complaints against him. The court dismissed Plaintiff’s race discrimination claims because Plaintiff neglected to put Defendants on notice of this claim in the charge filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  The court dismissed Plaintiff’s retaliation claims either because he failed to identify an adverse employment action or neglected to include the dates of the purported retaliatory actions in the Complaint.  According to the court, neither putting an employee on a performance improvement plan nor requiring an employee to attend a conference on a holiday weekend amounted to adverse employment actions.  While corralling employees to file complaints against Plaintiff would constitute an adverse employment action, and while changing an employee’s work schedule could, under special circumstances, be deemed to be an adverse employment action, Plaintiff did not specify the dates of the actions in the Complaint.  Although this omission normally would have been curable, the court dismissed the action with prejudice because Defendants had raised the pleading deficiencies in a pre-motion conference, and Plaintiff did not cure them.

2/14/2018
read
Sex Discrimination; Faculty & Staff; Race and National Origin Discrimination; Discrimination, Accommodation, & Diversity

Woesler v. Utah Valley University (10th Circuit, Feb. 13, 2018)

Order and Judgment affirming summary judgment for the Defendant.  Plaintiff, a Caucasian male of German descent who had a one-year tenure-track position as coordinator of the Chinese Studies program at Utah Valley University (UVU), alleged that UVU discriminated against him and subjected him to a hostile environment based on race, national origin, and gender, and retaliated against him when UVU declined to award him tenure.  Though Plaintiff produced evidence that his colleagues had made hostile comments, the court concluded that “isolated incidents,” like the ones Plaintiff identified, did not amount to a hostile environment under Title VII.  The court also affirmed judgment for the Defendant on Plaintiff’s disparate treatment claims because the Plaintiff provided no evidence that UVU treated him differently from any similarly situated employee.  Finally, the court affirmed judgment for the Defendant on the issue of retaliation, since Plaintiff offered no evidence suggesting that retaliatory animus was the “but-for” cause of UVU’s decision not to award him tenure. 

2/14/2018
read
Retaliation; Race and National Origin Discrimination; Discrimination, Accommodation, & Diversity

Herron-Williams v. Alabama State University (M.D. Ala. Feb. 6, 2018)

Memorandum Opinion and Order granting Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment. Plaintiff, an African-American tenured professor at Alabama State University (ASU), alleged under Title VII that Defendant discriminated against her based on race and gender, and retaliated against her based on 1) an email she sent to ASU’s President and 2) a charge she filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In support of her discrimination claims, Plaintiff points to the denial of her request for equipment while serving as supervisor of the Office of Minority and International Affairs (OMIA), her removal from the OMIA supervisor position, her removal as faculty athletic representative (FAR), and a salary reduction. The court found that Plaintiff did not plead a prima facie case of race or gender discrimination since she could not show that she was treated less favorably than a similarly-situated employee outside of her protected class. The court further concluded that Plaintiff could not prove causation or pretext for her retaliation claim relating to the email she sent ASU’s President. Although Plaintiff stated in the email that she believed she had been subjected to unlawful discrimination, the court deemed that belief to be objectively unreasonable, and as such, the email did not constitute a “protected activity” for purposes of a retaliation analysis. The court also awarded judgment to the Defendant on Plaintiff’s second retaliation claim—where she alleged her salary was cut by $20,000 after filing an EEOC charge—since the temporal proximity between the protected activity and adverse employment action was too attenuated, spanning two months at its shortest and six months at its longest. 

2/12/2018
read
Race and National Origin Discrimination; Retaliation; Discrimination, Accommodation, & Diversity

Tamari v. Board of Trustees of Southern Illinois University (S.D Ill. Feb. 5, 2018)

Memorandum and Order granting Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment. Plaintiff, who worked in Southern Illinois University (SIU)’s Department of International Student Services, alleged that SIU discriminated against her based on her Palestinian nationality when three separate search committees declined to appoint her to various positions in the Office of International Programs.  Plaintiff also alleged SIU’s hiring decisions were improperly motivated by retaliatory animus, as a result of two separate charges she had filed with the Office of Institutional Compliance (OIC) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Though Plaintiff satisfied her prima facie burden, the court found that Plaintiff failed to establish pretext, since she offered no evidence to rebut the hiring committee’s affidavits attributing the hiring decision to poor performance on phone interviews and averring that they did not consider Plaintiff’s nationality in the hiring process.  The court further found that Plaintiff’s retaliation claim relating to three other job positions failed because: 1) she could not establish that her complaints with the OIC and EEOC were causally connected to the Provost’s decision to reorganize the International Programs Office, which eliminated the open position she applied for, 2) she could not prove that she was qualified for an Executive Director position since she lacked the requisite five years of experience in a directorial role, and 3) she failed to plead retaliation relating to a hiring manager's rejection of her application for a different director position. 

2/8/2018
read
Sex Discrimination; Retaliation; Race and National Origin Discrimination; Discrimination, Accommodation, & Diversity

Lindsey v. Bd. of Trustees of the Univ. of Ky., et al. (Ky. App. Feb. 2, 2018)

Opinion affirming-in-part, reversing-in-part, and remanding for further proceedings. Appellant, an African-American woman employed by the University of Kentucky (UK) as a Clinical Coordinator, alleged that UK declined to promote her on three separate occasions, and ultimately terminated her employment, on account of her race and gender in violation of Kentucky’s Civil Rights Act. The court found that Appellant failed to offer direct evidence of discrimination.   Even if the discriminatory comments that Plaintiff identified had been true, they were attributable to an employee who had no involvement in the promotion decisions. The court also found that Plaintiff failed to establish a prima facie case of discrimination under the McDonnell Douglas burden shifting framework because Plaintiff did not apply for the desired position. However, the court found that Appellant’s retaliation claim could proceed under a cat’s paw theory of liability because Appellant’s supervisor testified that she had been instructed to “find a ‘legitimate’ reason to terminate [Plaintiff].” 

2/8/2018
read
Retaliation; Race and National Origin Discrimination; Sex Discrimination; Discrimination, Accommodation, & Diversity

Fulton v. Mississippi State University, et al. (N.D. Miss. Jan. 29, 2018)

Memorandum Opinion granting-in-part and denying-in-part Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss. Plaintiff, an African-American woman who continues to work as a program assistant for Mississippi State University (MSU), alleged under Title VII that MSU discriminated against her based on her race and sex and retaliated against her by involuntarily transferring her to another county office because of her association with a co-worker who brought sexual harassment claims against MSU. The court found that Plaintiff could not bring race and sex discrimination claims against MSU because she failed to include them in her charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, thereby failing to exhaust her administrative remedies. However, the court found that Plaintiff alleged a prima facie case of retaliation and allowed it to proceed at this early stage in the litigation. The court further found that 1) Eleventh Amendment immunity protected MSU and Individual Defendants in their official capacity from Plaintiff’s claims, 2) Plaintiff’s claims against Individual Defendants were improper because they were not “employers” as defined under Title VII, and 3) Plaintiff was precluded from recovering punitive damages from Defendants. 

2/6/2018
read
Race and National Origin Discrimination; Discrimination, Accommodation, & Diversity

Knight v. State University of New York at Stony Brook (2nd Cir. Jan. 29, 2018)

Opinion affirming the judgment of the district court. Plaintiff, an African-American electrician who was referred by his Union to do electrical work for State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook, alleged racial discrimination and retaliation under Title VII for his termination, which Plaintiff attributes to his reporting of racist graffiti in a worksite bathroom. On appeal, Plaintiff challenges 1) the district court’s decision to have the jury decide whether Plaintiff was an employee, 2) the court’s jury instruction for determining employee status, and 3) the sufficiency of the evidence to support the jury’s finding that Plaintiff was not an employee. The court found no error in having the jury decide whether Plaintiff was Defendant’s employee. The court further found that the Reid factors articulated by the Supreme Court were proper for analyzing whether an individual is an employee for purposes of Title VII. Last, the court found Plaintiff was precluded from questioning the jury’s finding because he failed to file a renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law following the jury’s verdict.

2/1/2018
read
Race and National Origin Discrimination; Discrimination, Accommodation, & Diversity; Equal Protection; Constitutional Issues

Reeves v. Shawnee State University, et al. (S.D. Ohio Jan. 29, 2018)

Order granting Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment. Shawnee State University (SSU) dismissed Plaintiff, an African-American nursing student, from its program for failing his clinical internship at Southern Ohio Medical Center (SOMC). SSU policy precluded Plaintiff from re-enrolling in the program because he had already successfully re-enrolled after failing a first-year course. Plaintiff alleged race discrimination and violation of the equal protection clause under federal and Ohio law by SSU, SSU administrators, SOMC, and two SOMC internship supervisors. The court found that Plaintiff could not establish a prima facie claim of race discrimination against SSU because he could not show that similarly-situated white nursing students were treated more favorably than him. The court also found that qualified immunity protected SSU administrators from Plaintiff’s claims. 

2/1/2018
read
12345678910...>>