Paul L. Caron

Monday, March 9, 2020

Federal Judge Grants Summary Judgment To John Marshall Law School In Sex Bias Case Brought By Male Former Director Of Development & Alumni Relations

Following up on my previous post:  Law360, John Marshall Law School Defeats Man's Sex Bias Suit:

UIC John MarshallAn Illinois federal judge handed the John Marshall Law School victory in a sex discrimination suit Thursday, ruling there is no evidence the Chicago school fired its head of alumni relations because he is a man [Bergholz v. John Marshall Law School, No. 1:18-cv-3 (Mar. 5, 2019)].

Plaintiff John Bergholz hasn’t presented any evidence proving the law school treated any similarly situated female more favorably it treated him or that he even met the school’s legitimate work expectations, U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman said. The judge granted John Marshall summary judgment over Bergholz’s sex bias claims, saying the ex-employee also failed to prove that his April 2017 termination was based on pretext or that any better treatment a female employee received was systematic. ...

Bergholz’s lawsuit claimed he was one of several men fired or passed over for jobs and promotions at the school in recent years, and that his problems began in fall 2016 after he met with an alumna and frequent donor in Washington, D.C.

The donor had stopped giving to the school after she was offended by an adjunct professor's racist and anti-Semitic comments, according to the suit, so Bergholz and a John Marshall professor had lunch with her to woo her back. The three dined at the Trump Hotel in Washington at the donor's request, but [Associate Dean Anthony] Niedwiecki criticized Bergholz for his choice of venue, according to the suit.

Niedwiecki told others at the school that Bergholz's decision constituted an endorsement of President Donald Trump and meant Bergholz was anti-gay, anti-Muslim and anti-black, the suit said. Bergholz complained about the comments to human resources, but nothing was done, he alleged.

In March 2017, the school's director of diversity told Bergholz that four women who worked on Bergholz's staff had complained about his lack of "sensitivity." The director did not elaborate on what that meant, other than to say that there were no allegations of sexual harassment and there would not be a formal investigation, according to the suit.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink