Tenured Law Prof Apparently Suspended for Racial-Harassment-Lawsuit Problem on a Civil Procedure Exam
[1.] Here’s the text of an exam question (worth 1 point out of 50) administered in Prof. Jason Kilborn’s civil procedure class at University of Illinois Chicago John Marshall Law School:
After she was fired from her job, Plaintiff sued Employer under federal civil rights law, claiming employment discrimination on the basis of her race and gender. [discussion of other evidence omitted] Employer also revealed that one of Plaintiff’s former managers might have damaging information about the case, but no one at Employer knew where that former manager was, since she had abruptly quit her job at Employer several months ago and had not been heard from since. With nothing to go on but the manager’s name, Employer’s lawyer pieced together several scraps of information and concluded that this former manager must be located in a remote area of northern Wisconsin. Employer’s lawyer spent $25,000 to hire a private investigator, who successfully located the former manager in northern Wisconsin. Employer’s lawyer traveled to meet the manager, who stated that she quit her job at Employer after she attended a meeting in which other managers expressed their anger at Plaintiff, calling her a “n____” and “b____” (profane expressions for African Americans and women) and vowed to get rid of her.
Later, Plaintiff’s lawyer served [another discovery demand, omitted, and] an interrogatory demanding the identity and location of any person with any information related to the termination of Plaintiff’s employment at Employer or potential discrimination against Plaintiff by Employer or any agent of Employer.
Can Employer identify the former manager but properly withhold her location, as this is the product of a significant amount of work and expense by Employer’s attorney?
As readers of this blog doubtless gathered, the “n____” and “b____” were what was written on the exam; as usual, I don’t expurgate such words in quotes—the professor had expurgated them himself on the exam. Yet Prof. Kilborn reports, in a post to a law professor discussion list:
[I]n a 2-minute Zoom meeting at 8:30 am Tuesday, my dean placed me on indefinite administrative leave, all my classes were cancelled hours before one was set to meet for the first time (with 70 students curtly told to find another course, I’m told), my committee memberships were cancelled (including University Promotion & Tenure, to which I was unanimously elected by my faculty peers), and I’m barred from campus and from all faculty communications.
My dean has offered no explanation of what behavior of mine warrants this flagrant violation of university procedure and basic fairness, though she promised our Office for Access and Equity (mentioned in the story) would be reaching out to explain.
I e-mailed the Dean—who is also the President of the American Association of Law Schools, and who in that capacity has said that all professors at all law schools “must work to transform our schools into antiracist organizations“—for her and the school’s side of the story, and got this response from the university: “Thank you for reaching out to the law school. Respectfully, the university cannot comment on personnel matters. The university is committed t
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