Thursday, December 29, 2011

Appeals Court Reinstates Political Discrimination Lawsuit

As we mentioned in a prior post about James Franco, adjunct or part-time college faculty (i.e., without tenure or job security) usually have to navigate a public relations minefield in terms of student evaluations to make sure their contracts get renewed.

Getting a college teaching job (and especially qualifing for a full-time or tenured positon) often requires a strong publishing track record, but there's a Catch-22 in relation to political ideology: Try getting hired or promoted in academia if you have right-of-center publications or activity. In general, fuggedaboutit.

So anyone who supports the First Amendment should applaud the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit for reinstating a political discrimination case for trial in federal district court.

As a result of the appellate panel's ruling, Teresa Wagner "who alleges she was denied a job at the University of Iowa College of Law because of her conservative politics can proceed with a discrimination lawsuit against the school’s former dean," The Wall Street Journal reports.

Wagner, a registered Republican and known social conservative, was a part-time instructor at the college's Writing Resource Center who was turned down for a full-time gig despite apparently having the appropriate credentials and recommendations. A lower court judge had dismissed the case but the appeals court determined that there was enough of a dispute over whether then law school dean Carolyn Jones “would have made the same hiring decisions in the absence of Wagner’s political affiliations and beliefs” to put the case back on the trial docket.

According to the On Brief blog, there is only one registered Republican among the 50 faculty members at Iowa's law school.

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