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NONFICTION : ACADEMICS IN COURT: THE CONSEQUENCES OF FACULTY DISCRIMINATION LITIGATION by George R. LaNoue and Barbara A. Lee (University of Michigan: $29.95, hardcover; $16.95, paperback; 285 pp.).

August 09, 1987|Irwin C. Lieb

Under federal statutes against discrimination in employment, more and more faculty have sued their universities for not promoting them, for not giving them tenure or for not paying them what the faculty think they deserve. In thorough reviews of five recent cases, LaNoue and Lee explained why the cases are legally so difficult for faculty: University standards for promotion and pay--good teaching, good research and helpful service--have not been well defined; universities have been left to themselves to interpret them, and judges have been reluctant to comment on them. The suing faculty said they deserved promotion and increases; their universities said they didn't, and the universities almost always won. Their procedures for evaluating faculty, though convoluted, were rarely found to be unfair. The financial, psychological and other "impacts" of the trials were very heavy for the faculty, even when they won.

To lessen some of the "impacts," the authors think that faculty should usually use university grievance procedures instead of going to court. This conservative recommendation does not provide for class actions and leaves the faculty's contention with the university wholly inside of it. Still, it is the obvious counsel to take the easiest course when there is one.

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