Law professor claims age discrimination by Pitt
Share with others:
Recruited back to the University of Pittsburgh School of Law from a post at Duquesne University, tax professor William J. Brown found his return to the academic mainstream blocked by administrators who wanted younger teachers, according to an age discrimination lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court today.
Mr. Brown, 73, of Squirrel Hill, joined Pitt's law school in 1968, the complaint said, and was quickly granted tenured status. He stayed for 30 years, then left and soon took a post as the director of the Graduate Tax Program at Duquesne's business school.
In 2006, though, Pitt administrators invited him to return as a tax law professor, because two other professors were on leaves of absence and at least one was not expected to return. He accepted, and started voicing and writing letters about his desire to return to a full faculty position, again with tenure. At the end of the 2007-2008 school year, he got the law school's Excellence in Teaching award, the complaint said.
But around the same time, the complaint said, Pitt law administrators "considered the fact that the median age of the Law School faculty had increased, and determined that this was a negative factor that needed to be addressed."
The tenured position that Mr. Brown sought was instead given to a new hire, who the complaint described as fresh out of graduate school and in her early 30s, with modest experience. Mr. Brown was offered a reduced amount of adjunct teaching work, which his attorney, Samuel Cordes, described today as a drop in role and compensation.
"We don't put people out to pasture," said Mr. Cordes. "That's what the age discrimination law is all about."
He said Mr. Brown is now teaching part-time at Duquesne, but wants to return to Pitt in a full professor's role.
"By all objective qualifications, he's extremely qualified," Mr. Cordes said. "He's written books. He's testified before Congress. This is a person who enhances the reputation of the law school."
The lawsuit names only the University of Pittsburgh as a defendant.
Neither a Pitt law school administrator nor the school's spokeswoman could be reached for immediate comment.
First Published August 24, 2011 9:39 am