UF Law Professor Files Sex/Race Discrimination Lawsuit

Paul Caron has the details in TaxProf Blog: Former Florida Law Prof Files Racial and Sexual Discrimination Lawsuit Against School and Dean.

The well-written complaint — yes, just one side of the story — makes for ugly reading.

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9 Responses to UF Law Professor Files Sex/Race Discrimination Lawsuit

  1. bluebooker says:

    It is not “well-written.” The drafting attorney alerts the court that something is amiss by including paragraphs 29-34. The Oxford information is irrelevant, as is the tenure discussion. The judicial mind (a.k.a. bull-sh*t sensor is on high alert after reading this).

    Paragraph 34 is the most suspicious. Why is it relevant that she was on leave?

    Paragraph 31 tells you all you need to know about the case: She probably failed to understand that her leave stopped the tenure clock, she probably whined about it and was told no, and now she wants revenge.

    The fishy smell is everywhere. Why didn’t she call the police after the shove, and/or threatening emails if UF failed to respond?

    “well written”? I hope they don’t have you teaching legal writing.

    This is a classic case of a lawyer trying his case in a complaint, including a plethora of irrelevant facts and failing to advance a simple, straightforward theory of the case. In other words, a classic “shotgun” approach to complaint drafting, hoping the negative press will lead to a quick settlement.

  2. LACJ says:

    I love the anonymous comments attacking the complaint, and (inexplicably) Michael. Stay classy, you.

    The section on Oxford would seem to be in anticipation that the university will claim a failure to publish as the reason tenure was not offered (or considered, I haven’t read the entire complaint carefully).

    bb, you don’t know what you are talking about. You have no insight here, nor do you have the clear, unbiased eyes to see how a judge will read the complaint. In addition, in all likelihood you lack the experience to interpret the claim, but that may not be the case.

    Were you really an experienced attorney, well that would just make your silly comments here all the sadder and pitiable.

    The other issues raised are equally inapplicable. That fishy smell, bb, is your deep-seated anger, ready to be unleashed on anyone, at any time, without provocation. From whence that anger stems, I do not know.

    Mommy didn’t love you enough? Or maybe its just that Karl Rove didn’t come through with his promise of a permanent Republican majority? Oh, poor baby. Someone call the whaaaambulance!

  3. Patrick (G) says:

    Ugly reading indeed.

    please note Paragraphs 57-61.
    Mrs. Russel-Brown is two days into a four day pre-approved FMLA leave, and has her responsibilities re-assigned to someone else effective the next day (still during her approved leave).

    If true as alleged, that seems to be a fairly clear-cut and flagrant violation of the FMLA -quite apart from the discrimination charges- needlessly so, since her approved leave was only for four days.

    What I don’t understand, however, is why the University’s General Counsel’s office just referred her back to the Law School. I realize that the University’s General Counsel is not there to mediate intra-departmental disputes, but surely the University actually has a disciplinary/appeals process that the General Counsel’s office should have forcefully urged onto both parties; simply to protect the University from just this sort of legal exposure, if no other reason.

    As it stands; if the facts are as alleged, why would anyone want to study law from a law school which has such blatant disregard for both its own rules and the rules of law?

  4. skeptic says:

    Unless the violence can be proven, the harassment does not rise to the level required. To paraphrase the case law, Title VII is not a civility code. The violence is another matter, but likely incapable of proof.

    The alleged retaliation will also be difficult to prove, as apparently she chose to leave rather than demonstrate that if she showed up to teach she wouldn’t be paid. And she likely can’t prove much if it was in the nature of conversations.

    All UF needs to do is show there was a non-discriminatory basis for their actions. It will likely be raised by them soon. She hints at them in 53-56. God forbid a Law School administration should consider student evaluations!

    “As it stands; if the facts are as alleged, why would anyone want to study law from a law school which has such blatant disregard for both its own rules and the rules of law?”

    1) Much higher ranked in USNWR, 2) Better respected in Fla., 3) 1/3 tuition cost of say, UM Law

  5. At Peace says:

    I worked at UF law in administration for several years and it was one of the most cut-throat hostile environments that I ever experienced. Many of the things that she complains about are true. Having experienced it first hand, I hope she wins because the the only way they will change if it hits them in the pockbook.

    • Bruce Maynard says:

      I would like to speak with you at your convenience. I am a former student that was denied reentry to finish my doctorate degree. Professor that blocked my readmission says now during an investigation, maybe he made a mistake.

  6. Roscoe5 says:

    As usual once a complaint if filed the damage is done. On red flag in the complaint is the identification of people by race in some instances and not in others, For example, none of the people in the snubbing and pushing incident are identified by race, The reader is to infer they were white. In a public document released today by a UF professor it turns out that none of the participants, assuming the incident happened at all, were white. In addition, it appear now that the person identified as stating that the School is not ready for a African American dean was misidentified. And, even more puzzling is the invocation of statements by Jonathan Cohen, an evidence teacher for goodness sake, based on what must be hearsay. Somewhere is the complaint there may be accurate facts about the dismissal but for a school that voted overwhelmingly to grant a promotion to Professor Brown, the racism angle just does not stand up,

  7. Levin 3L says:

    Patrick, you ask, “As it stands; if the facts are as alleged, why would anyone want to study law from a law school which has such blatant disregard for both its own rules and the rules of law?”

    Skeptic posted three very good answers to the question, and I agree. Levin is arguably the best law school in Florida and is a public school at that. In-state tuition is markedly lower than at other competitive institutions. Furthremore, Florida is full of attorneys who have graduated from UF Law and, if you’ve ever been to Gainesville on a football weekend, you will agree that the Gators are among the most loyal groups of alumni I have ever seen. I was raised a Hurricane, so this is especially difficult for me to admit, but the Gator Nation truly is everywhere.

    I’m a current third year at Levin and this school has been good to me. I am a hispanic woman and I have never been discriminated here on the basis of my race. Quite to the contrary, Levin has a strong support system in place for students of color. There are a plethora of student organizations that serve to unite and empower many different races including the Spanish American Law Student Association (SALSA), the Asian and Pacific Law Students Association (APALSA), and the Black Law Students Association (BLSA). In fact, BLSA is one of the largest and most powerful student groups on campus and their receive money from both student government and outside contributions that makes them perhaps the best funded group on campus.

    Please keep in mind that the complaint is just that – a complaint. The facts alleged have not yet been proved. I was in my first year when the incidents in the classroom and the “threatening” email occurred. While I was not in her class, I can tell you that long before that infamous email, students in that section were complaining about Prof. Russell-Brown’s high level of unprofessionalism. What the complaint fails to do is mention that she cancelled class repeatedly throughout the semester and, after the email, completely refused to come to class or to offer any sort of review for the final exam. Professor Russell-Brown’s lack of attendance to her own class raised concerns that the ABA would force the entire section of about 100 students to repeat their Torts class for lack of completed instruction hours because the professor did not go to class. (FYI – The ABA has a minimum number of instruction hours that are required for certain classes, like Torts, that students must receive lest they lose credit for the course and block themselves from taking the bar.) Interestingly, after the Torts debacle, she was supposed to teach a seminar class (in the Fall of 2007, I believe). Although she had a full class, she simply did not show up for the first week of instruction. What is an institution to do when they have a professor that repeatedly fails to care for her job requirements?

    It truly makes me sad how easily race accusations can be hurled these days. Racism is an ugly thing and should not be used as a last-ditch ‘get out of jail free card’ when someone has felt wronged. While I have no experience within the administration and cannot speak to half of the allegations in the complaint, I urge you all to read the complaint with a grain of salt. I have no doubt that UF will issue an Answer in the coming week that will respond to these allegations. The beauty of our justice system is that there is a time for allegations and responses. Regardless of what the final verdict is, I am confident that justice will be served, the truth will prevail, and I will not be ashamed to say that I graduated from UF Law.

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