Law Schools

Fired prof's suit against law school is dismissed

A federal judge dismissed a breach of contract and wrongful termination lawsuit against the University of the District of Columbia’s David A. Clarke School of Law, filed by a professor who was denied tenure and subsequently fired.

In granting the school’s motion to dismiss (PDF) U.S. District Judge Richard Leon said that plaintiff Stephanie Brown failed to show how her race and gender led to her tenure denial and firing and also failed to show how the law school violated its faculty handbook in its handling of her tenure evaluation, the Blog of Legal Times reported.

Leon wrote that Brown’s complaint alleged “no set of facts, beyond threadbare and conclusory assertions, from which a reasonable person could infer how her gender or race caused her tenure rejection.”

Brown applied for tenure in 2009 after 25 years as an administrator and law professor. She was told in June 2011 that her application was rejected and that the 2011-2012 school year would be her last one at the law school, the Blog of Legal Times reported. Brown was formally notified that she was being fired in May 2012 and filed her lawsuit shortly after receiving that notice. In August 2012, Brown asked for a preliminary injunction to hold off her termination but Leon denied it, finding that she shouldn’t have waited 11 months after the tenure denial to argue her future career options would be immediately and irreparably harmed without a court order.

Brown’s attorney, Washington, D.C., solo practitioner Donald Temple, said that Brown’s case shows “a clear double standard” in how the law school handled tenure review, the Blog of Legal Times reported. He and Brown are weighing whether to appeal.

Lead counsel for the law school, Yoora Pak of Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker in McLean, Va., declined to comment.

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