We offer a lot of coverage of lawyers suing their law firms. They’re almost always the same: lawyer is fired; lawyer finds something to sue the employer over. Sometimes the lawyer’s claims have merit; sometimes they don’t.
It’s a little more rare for a law professor to sue his or her law school. That’s probably because it’s much harder for a law professor to be fired or pushed out. Oftentimes you only see lawsuits from professors when they feel like they’ve been unfairly denied tenure. After they get tenure, well, there’s little the law school can do to them anyway.
Well, unless the school concludes that a professor “poses a safety risk,” to the students at the law school. Then, the professor can be suspended.
And then, much like a lawyer in private practice, the law professor will sue the school….
Today’s crazy story comes from the Ohio Northern University Claude W. Pettit College of Law. No, I did not know that school existed. Yes, it is accredited by the ABA.
The University said Traster sexually harassed a student at his home and a staff member at her home. The university said its officials acted within policy and has taken the appropriate steps to deal the matter.
ONU says they suspended Traster for the “safety” of their students. Traster says the university was just trying to push out a high-salaried professor:
Vernon Traster filed a lawsuit in federal court saying the university took inappropriate steps to get rid of him because he was at the top of the pay scale. Traster also alleges age and sex discrimination, as well as breach of contract.
He is seeking more than $75,000 in damages including back pay, reinstatement and compensatory damages.
Sex discrimination? Like, if he was a woman accused of hitting on women, he wouldn’t have been suspended because girl-on-girl sexual harassment is hot?
The allegations against Traster are pretty salacious:
The action against Traster started when a law student came forward in early March alleging Traster sexually harassed her. She said on Feb. 27, he made an inappropriate sexual comment, asked her questions of a sexual nature and inappropriately touched her while she was working at his home on university-related matters, according to court records.
Following that complaint, a staff member came forward saying Traster sexually harassed her. She said Traster called her to see if he could stop by her home to discuss his divorce. He reportedly arrived with alcohol in hand, according to court records.
While talking, the woman said Traster tried to kiss and touch her while telling her what kind of sexual activity he wanted to do with her. She said she had to call a friend for help.
Yeah, see, here’s the problem with suing your law school: it just makes these allegations come out of the woodwork. Like, now we’re kind of interested in whether or not Traster was unfairly pushed out, but we’re much more interested in what he allegedly “wanted to do with her.” That story just got additional legs.
Whether or not these allegations are true, and at this point they are mere allegations, now is a good time to remind people of the old rule: “Don’t s**t where you eat.” Townies > the student body.