Law School Professor Sues School After What Sounds Like A Whole Lot Of Retaliation

Laptop in classic libraryProfessor Paul Campos wrote the book on the law school scam. Literally, to the extent his Inside the Law School Scam blog became essential reading for anyone covering legal education and even a decade on his Don’t Go To Law School (Unless) (affiliate link) provides useful guidance for prospective students. Some of the most egregious offenders in the law school market are gone, but their departure didn’t mend all the glaring holes in higher education.

Now he’s brought a suit against his own law school.

In a post over at Lawyers, Guns, Money, Professor Campos outlines his complaint against the University of Colorado after an alleged string of professional attacks. It began with a shoddy annual evaluation from a peer committee backed up by the dean. As Campos explains it, it’s not even the low grade — which is bad enough — but that neither the committee nor the dean would explain the reasoning behind the grade. It’s always the coverup and not the crime as they say.

But then the administration got a little crazy with it:

When asked by me, the committee refused to give me any explanation for the grade. The dean then continued to refuse to make any independent evaluation of the recommendation. I then indicated to her that I might need to assert my rights in a more formal way, at which point she told me she was “not afraid of litigation.”

Lawyerly lesson number one is not to tell a lawyer that you’re “not afraid of litigation.” Especially if you’re actually unprepared for litigation…

A few days after the law school received a letter from my attorney, requesting that documents be preserved for the purposes of potential litigation, the dean sent me an email telling me she was stripping me of a valuable committee assignment, that I had worked hard to obtain and keep, because I had complained about being discriminated against by the law school. Short of literally typing out “I am retaliating against you because you are complaining about discrimination,” this email was as close to a perfect illustration of illegal retaliation as it’s possible to imagine.

Does anyone at the school have labor & employment law experience? Because it might’ve been smart to run this move by them first. Generally, taking professional tasks away from someone for complaining about discrimination ends very badly for the employer. And you definitely don’t do it in writing. This seems like an issue the school should’ve considered before announcing that it was “not afraid of litigation.”

The account of the suit continues, noting that the school took a course away from Campos based upon “racially insensitive” and “gender biased” remarks made in his last class. This is, of course, an entirely reasonable reason to strip a professor of a class. But the administration has got to bring receipts if it wants to do something like this and, per Campos, the school has not only refused to point to any specific remarks, but…

My attorney pointed out to the law school that we were in possession of complete recordings of all of my Property classes from the previous spring, and that a review of them revealed how utterly without basis the claim that I had made racist or sexist remarks in class was.

This feels like it’s going to be an unintended consequence of the pandemic going forward. While some professors filmed classes for years, everyone got into the practice during the COVID years and consequently it’s going to get a whole lot easier to ding a professor for inappropriate behavior and, as in this case, a whole lot harder to improperly ding a professor for inappropriate behavior.

Did the school not realize that he recorded his classes? It seems like this would be crucial information to know before accusing someone over classroom remarks.

Campos believes the source of the school’s animosity is his ongoing criticism of the administration’s financial practices. Which may or may not be valid — though he outlines a compelling case — but that really doesn’t matter because an employer still can’t start retaliating against an employee for criticizing the budget.

I guess we’re about to see how “not afraid of litigation” the law school really was.

Why I’m suing the University of Colorado [Lawyers, Guns, Money]

HeadshotJoe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.


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