A professor at the University of California in Los Angeles has sued the dean of his school for damages after he was suspended for refusing to mark the work of black and white students by different criteria.
Gordon Klein, who has taught at UCLA for 40 years, on Monday sued the Anderson School of Management where he teaches
He was suspended briefly by UCLA in the summer of 2020, amid a row about trauma caused by the George Floyd protests.
Klein said he was suing for unspecified damages ‘not only to redress the wrongful conduct he has endured, but also to protect academic freedom.’
He said in the court documents that he ‘suffered severe emotional distress, trauma, and physical ailments for which he has been treated by his primary care physician, a gastrointestinal physician, and a psychiatrist.’
The documents state: ‘Plaintiff also has suffered substantial loss of income,’ and explained that while Klein, who is tenured, was reinstated to his job, he has lost out on corporate work and expert witness which comprised the majority of his income.
‘Since approximately 2008, Plaintiff has maintained a highly successful private consulting practice as an expert witness (‘Expert Witness Practice’),’ court papers said. ‘The Expert Witness Practice – of which Defendants were well aware at the time of their actions and the events alleged herein – has served as Plaintiff’s principal source of income and is conducted independently from his University commitments.’
The UCLA Anderson School of Management, where Klein still teaches, suspended him in June 2020 for three weeks after he refused to mark students’ work based on the color of their skin
He said that his work as a consultant dropped dramatically following the UCLA disagreement, and he was seeking financial redress.
Klein’s problems began when a student wrote to him on June 2 – eight days after George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis – asking for him to mark black students’ work more leniently, because the black students were traumatized by Floyd’s murder.
Klein, writing on Weiss’ Substack on Thursday, said he found the request ‘deeply patronizing and offensive to the same black students he claimed to care so much about.’
He replied to the student: ‘Are there any students that may be of mixed parentage, such as half black half-Asian? What do you suggest I do with respect to them? A full concession or just half?
‘Also, do you have any idea if any students are from Minneapolis? I assume that they are probably especially devastated as well. I am thinking that a white student from there might possibly be even more devastated by this, especially because some might think that they’re racist even if they are not.’
He concluded that he would not mark students’ work differently based on the color of their skin.
‘I have a law degree, and I’m pretty sure the university’s EDI agenda violates Proposition 209, the California Constitution’s prohibition against race-based preferences in public education,’ he wrote.
‘Voters enacted this decades ago and reaffirmed it, last year, at the ballot box.
‘So, I opted to follow the state Constitution and my conscience.’
George Floyd protests are pictured in Los Angeles on June 2, 2020, after the May 25 murder of the Minnesota man. A student at UCLA Anderson said that black students had been traumatized by the events and needed more lenient marking
Klein’s email went viral, and he was attacked on social media – receiving vile insults and death threats, and needing police protection.
Klein explained: ‘Anderson administrators were rattled, and for good reason. But not because of the fact that my life was now being threatened.
Antonio Bernardo, the dean of the UCLA Anderson School of Management, was sued by Klein on Monday
‘The problem was Anderson’s reputation. It hadn’t granted an African-American professor tenure in decades. It had but a handful of tenured Latino professors.
‘Black students made up about two percent of the student body. And men outnumbered women roughly two-to-one, leading many students to call Anderson the MANderson School of MANagement.’
He wrote that Antonio Bernardo, the dean of UCLA Anderson, decided that ‘a well-timed publicity stunt might distract attention away from the school’s reputation as an inhospitable place for persons of color’ and suspended Klein – sparking anger on campus, and both petitions for his firing and for him to be reinstated.
On June 3, Anderson tweeted: ‘Respect and equality for all are core principles at UCLA Anderson. It is deeply disturbing to learn of this email, which we are investigating.
‘We apologize to the student who received it and to all those who have been as upset and offended by it as we are ourselves.’
Klein said he was left ‘confused and hurt’ – despite being reinstated after less than three weeks.
On the Substack he wrote that he was taking legal action to both win damages and make a point about academic freedom.
‘No employee should ever cower in fear of his employer’s power to silence legitimate points of view, and no society should tolerate government-sponsored autocrats violating constitutional mandates,’ he said.