February 27. 2004

Contact: Dan Lara, University Relations, (785) 864-8855, dlara@ku.edu

KU wins federal appeals court ruling in discrimination case

LAWRENCE -- The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of the University of Kansas, upholding an earlier decision that a claim of discrimination by a former faculty member was without merit.

Karin Pagel Meiners, who taught German languages and literature from 1992 to 2001, had appealed an earlier U.S. District Court ruling in favor of the university. The appeals court ruled on Feb. 24 that her claim that she had been discriminated against on the basis of her sex in tenure decisions, retaliation and denial of due process under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were without merit.

Pagel Meiners originally sued the university, and KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway and KU Executive Vice Chancellor David Shulenburger in July 2001.

The district court rejected Pagel Meiners˙ claim in September 2002. Judge Kathryn H. Vratil ruled that Pagel Meiners had failed to prove a case of discrimination or retaliation against the university.

Pagel Meiners appealed the district court ruling to the court of appeals, which affirmed the district court's decision.

According to court records, the university twice granted Pagel Meiners' requests for leave during two fall semesters so that she could attend to family obligations.

Each time, the university responded by extending her probationary period for tenure by one year, thereby delaying the final tenure review by of two years. The university considered her for tenure and promotion during the 1999-2000 academic year, as required, but decided not to grant tenure. She was not reappointed after the 2000-2001 academic year.

Although Pagel Meiners had notice of the extensions and did not object to them at the time, she claimed later that extending her probation by two years violated her contract with the university and she should have been granted tenure by default.

In its ruling the appeals court wrote, "There are, no doubt, cases of tenure clock extensions that are not beneficial, but rather reflect attempts by the University to retain an assistant professor's services without granting her tenure.... But this is not such a case."

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