Lamar appeals immunity ruling in professor's tenure discrimination suit

David Yates Oct. 4, 2010, 11:00am

Seeking to reverse a ruling denying it sovereign immunity in a discrimination lawsuit, Lamar University has filed an appeal with the Ninth Court of Appeals of Texas.

As the Southeast Texas Record previously reported, in February 2008, Michael Jordan, a Lamar University professor, brought a discrimination suit against the college, alleging he was denied tenure because of his gender.

Contending the university is protected by sovereign immunity, Lamar submitted a plea to the jurisdiction in response to the suit.

On May 24 Jefferson County Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd District Court, denied the college's motion, prompting the appeal.

The case has been submitted on briefs for Oct. 21.

On appeal, Lamar argues that it "is entitled to sovereign immunity from Jordan's discrimination claim because he failed to timely file his claim with the Texas Commission on Human Rights not later than 180 days after learned of the department's allegedly discriminatory votes against the tenure promotion," the university's appeals brief states.

Court papers show that Jordan applied for tenure on Nov. 14, 2005, and was rejected the following month. He then filed his charge of descrimination on Dec. 7, 2006 � seven months past the 180-day deadline.

Jordan contends that it is the receipt of the formal notification that his tenure was denied on Sept. 21, 2006, that triggers the 180 day limitations period, court papers say.

Case background

In his suit, Jordan says she was an assistant professor in the criminal justice department and was granted two years' credit toward tenure when he accepted the position at Lamar.

In 2005, Jordan's tenure application was denied, despite the fact that his teaching evaluation scores were higher than other faculty members in the criminal justice department, he claims in his suit.

He alleges the year before his application was denied, the university granted tenure to a female professor in his department, and that he has been routinely treated disparately from his female counterparts.

Jordan also claims that the university has a pattern of not hiring male applicants to faculty positions, court papers say.

He is seeking back pay and lost benefits, reinstatement and tenure, compensatory damages, attorneys' fees, interest and court costs. The plaintiff is also requesting that the university be enjoined from engaging in future acts that are in violation of anti-discrimination laws.

Anthony P. Griffin of Galveston is representing Jordan.

Lamar is represented in part by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Trial case No. E181-188
Appeals case No. 09-10-00292

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