An ousted business professor at Ohio State University is suing the school over the circumstances surrounding her departure. She claims that she was denied due process during the investigation that led to her termination and that her firing was an example of gender discrimination in violation of Title IX.
Ohio State Sued by Ousted Business Professor
The professor was hired by Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio – near where she grew up – in 2012 to teach marketing at the Fisher School of Business. During her nearly seven-year tenure, she experienced what she would describe as a “toxic environment” at the school and a “boys club” in its Executive Education program.
A few months ago, she was fired from her position for violating the school's financial conflict-of-interest policy for faculty members. She had apparently steered a $1.6 million project with the Ohio Department of Medicaid to her company, rather than to the Executive Education program where she taught.
She filed a lawsuit against the school, arguing that other, male, faculty members had done similar things and no one had mentioned it, before. She also made a laundry list of other things that she had been called out for doing that other, notably male, faculty members had gotten away with.
That lawsuit claims that her termination violated her due process rights and discriminated against her based on her gender.
Not All Terminations are Discriminatory
Central to the lawsuit against Ohio State is the notion that the firing of the female professor was wrongful because it was based on gender discrimination. However, much of the lawsuit focuses not on denying the alleged wrongdoing and conflict-of-interest that led to the professor's ouster; but on pointing fingers at other, male, professors who were apparently doing the same thing.
It's a risky maneuver because, while the female professor does deny the conflict-of-interest elsewhere in the lawsuit, much of the energy in the complaint is on the disparate treatment that she got for a tacitly admitted violation of the school's code of conduct.
How the Due Process Element of the Lawsuit Will Play a Role
The female professor's lawsuit has two parts: The gender discrimination claim that utilizes Title IX, and the due process claim that argues she was not afforded a reasonable hearing process before she was let go.
That due process allegation can actually play a huge role in her discrimination argument because, if the hearing process that ended with the decision to fire her was faulty or insufficient, it can actually end up supporting her claim that she was discriminated against. She can claim that the poor hearing process was, itself, an example of gender discrimination.
Joseph D. Lento: Title IX Defense
Joseph D. Lento is a Title IX defense lawyer who represents students and faculty members who have been accused of sexual misconduct in violation of Title IX. These gender discrimination claims are cropping up in all sorts of situations, as more and more people try to argue that their experiences or setbacks were the result of discrimination, rather than a more reasonable explanation.
Contact him online or call his law office at (888) 535-3686.