Following up on my previous posts (links below): Law360, Emory Law Prof Calls Punishment For Using N-Word Unjust:
An Emory University School of Law professor hit his employer and former boss with a libel and retaliation suit Thursday, telling a Georgia federal court that they wrongfully suspended him and irreparably damaged his reputation after he used the N-word during a torts class in 2018.
Paul Zwier, who is white, has taught torts, evidence and advanced negotiations at Emory's law school in Atlanta since 2003. He has also written about equity and inclusion, race relations, racism in courts and the rule of law. According to the suit, his Emory career went without incident until a fateful first-year torts class in August 2018. ...
"Professor Zwier's use of the racist term was part of the class discussion and used as an example of how a tortfeasor's words could elevate the severity of the tort being committed," according to the complaint. "Professor Zwier did not direct the word at any individual student, but instead used it as a teaching moment and integral part of the lecture and discussion."
That evening, according to the suit, Zwier learned that Black students in his class had complained about his use of the word. Zwier apologized to his class the next day and had a discussion with Black students about his use of the word, he said. Any student issues appeared to be resolved at that time, he said.
Still, Emory leaders and his then-boss, former interim law school dean James B. Hughes Jr., suspended him and issued several misleading public statements that made it look like he "improperly used a racial slur in class without an academic purpose," Zwier said.
Later, Zwier complained that he was being treated differently because he was white, saying that Black professors had used the word without reproach, discipline or dismissal. Hughes then tried to have Zweir's tenure revoked in retaliation, the professor said. However, the Faculty Hearing Committee ultimately found that Hughes and Emory had failed to demonstrate adequate cause to do so, according to the suit.
Update: Law.com, Punished for Being White? Law Professor Suspended Over N-Word Sues Emory, Ex-Dean
Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:
- Tenured Emory Law Prof Removed From Teaching Torts After Using N-Word In Class (Aug. 29, 2018)
- After Professor's Alleged 'N-Bomb,' Emory Law Rally Calls For Tolerance, Respect (Sept. 1, 2018)
- Emory Law Prof Who Used 'N-Bomb' In Torts Class Is Barred From Teaching Required Courses For Two Years And Will Undergo Sensitivity And Bias Training (Sept. 19, 2018)
- Emory Alum (Fulton County Commissioner) Calls For Oct. 3 Rally To Demand Firing Of Tenured Law Prof Who Used N-Word In Torts Class, As Well As Dean, President, And Anyone Else Who Opposes His Firing (Sept. 30, 2018)
- Tenured Emory Law Prof Suspended After Allegedly Again Using N-Bomb (Nov. 13, 2018)
- Retired Emory Law Prof Asks ABA To Censure Law School For Suspending Law Prof Over Use Of 'N-Bomb' (Apr. 6, 2019)
- Legal Community Is Split Over Emory Law Prof's Use Of 'N-Bomb' (Apr. 10, 2019)
- Tenured Emory Law Prof Suspended For Using N-Bomb Faces Firing By University Faculty Committee At Oct. 4 Hearing (Aug. 24, 2019)
- Emory Investigating Reports That Two More Law Profs Used N-Bomb In Class (Sept. 8, 2019)
- Emory Faculty Committee Meets Today To Decide Fate Of Law Prof Who Used 'N-Bomb' (Oct. 4, 2019)
- Emory Law Prof Suspended For Using N-Word In Class Will Retain Tenure But Is Prohibited From Teaching Mandatory Courses Before Fall 2021 (Mar. 5, 2020)