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|Trial date set in Fed case against ULM|
A trial date has been set in a lawsuit stemming from alleged age discrimination and retaliatory acts at the University of Louisiana-Monroe.
U.S. District Court Judge Robert James will preside over a jury trial beginning May 3, 2010, in a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the University of Louisiana System. The ULS oversees ULM.
According to documents on file at U.S. District Court in Monroe, ULM officials engaged in a series of discriminatory and retaliatory acts against retired professor Van McGraw, in violation of federal age discrimination laws.
Specifically, the lawsuit said ULM officials "unlawfully rejected McGraw for employment on numerous occasions in retaliation for having engaged in activity protected by the Age Discrimination of Employment Act."
"Since at least October of 2002, Defendant has engaged in unlawful practices...by continually rejecting McGraw for employment in various positions for which he applied and/or expressed interest," government attorneys wrote in the lawsuit, filed in June, 2005.
McGraw previously sued ULM in the 1990s for age discrimination. That lawsuit was thrown out of court. Because of that lawsuit, EEOC contends, McGraw was denied a number of jobs at the university, including a post as associate dean of the College of Business Administration.
EEOC's lawsuit references a statement made by ULM Provost Stephen Richters to ULM officials concerning McGraw.
"Keneth Clow, the Dean of the Defendant's College of Business Administration, informed David Loudon, Head of Defendant's Department of Management and Marketing, that Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, Stephen Richters, stated that Defendant would not hire McGraw 'because of the lawsuit,'" according to the EEOC lawsuit.
Attorneys for the EEOC contend such actions constituted retaliatory action against McGraw in light of the age discrimination lawsuit he filed in the 1990s.
Attorneys for the University of Louisiana System counter that they are immune from prosecution in federal court because they are a state agency and protected by the 11th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The ULS contended that immunity also extends to employees of the state.
"All actions taken by any officials and/or employees of the State were done in good faith and in official capacities and, as such, they are entitled to qualified and unqualified immunity," ULS attorneys argued in a motion to dismiss the EEOC lawsuit.
The EEOC has sued under the federal Age Discrimination of Employment Act, which prohibits retaliating against individuals who had previously sued employers for age discrimination, regardless of the outcome of the previous claims.
Because it is a federal law, ULS attorneys argued the 11th Amendment protections meant the lawsuit should be dismissed.
The motion to dismiss the lawsuit was denied.
The EEOC is being represented in the case by New Orleans attorney Gregory Juge.
The ULS is represented by Winston DeCuir of Baton Rouge.
The EEOC is seeking a number of demands, including a permanent injunction against ULM to prevent future discrimination and retaliation against employees.
Additionally, the EEOC wants the federal courts to mandate new policies and procedures to prevent discrimination against employees age 40 and older.
The EEOC also wants the university to pay McGraw for lost wages, future potential earnings and damages.