A professor who filed the first lawsuit against the University of Connecticut in 2011 has finally won the court after his non-reappointment: a state judge has ordered that the university reinstate Luke Weinstein and pay him benefits and about $ 736,000 in damages and refunds.
Weinstein, a former non-tenor-track business instructor at UConn, is involved in a more than a decade-old legal lawsuit claiming that the university ignored numerous ethical concerns raised by him – including its one-time dean – and then failed to protect him. Revenge.
Weinstein initially pursued First Amendment-related claims against UConn, but federal and state courts sided with the university, citing restrictions on free speech protection for government employees.
Following a bench hearing this spring, Connecticut Superior Court Judge Susan Peck was finally satisfied with her claim for whistle-blower retaliation. It is based on Weinstein’s new 60-page Memorandum of Understanding. The document is highly critical of Yukon’s treatment of Weinstein, referring to the university’s “deception”, particularly by former Dean Christopher Early.
“The underlying mistakes associated with the myriad and relocated reasons for not re-employing [Weinstein] The stated reasons constitute circumstantial evidence for the 2011-12 academic year that the stated reasons were excusable, ”Peck writes in part.
Weinstein’s lawyer, Jack Parentu, said Tuesday, “I’ve practiced law for 40 years, so I’ve seen a lot. But this is one of the most disgusting descriptions of a high-level administrator I’ve ever seen – turning page after page for a judge. [Earley’s] The evidence was not credible, and flip-flops, and sort of things that. So it’s a huge embarrassment for the University of Connecticut to defend this guy against someone who’s trying to do the right thing. “
Early, who recently served as dean of law at the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Yukon spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz said the university was “reviewing the decision and considering its options in this regard, which has a long procedural history.”
Parentew said Weinstein, who worked as a lecturer at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy until 2016 and then moved to Puerto Rico, is looking forward to teaching at the Yukon again early this fall. (He said the university could still appeal the decision.)
Ethics concerns have been ignored
According to court documents, Weinstein earned his PhD. Marketing and management at UConn in 2008. Despite having job offers from elsewhere, he remained at UConn as director of the Innovation Accelerator program and assistant professor of management and business accommodation. Although the job was out of track, Weinstein was assured that he would continue to be re-employed until his performance was satisfactory and funds were available. Around the same time, Early was appointed dean of the School of Business, and Early’s wife, Elaine Mosakowski, was appointed permanent professor of management.
Weinstein had almost no contact with Early until 2010, when Early wanted to make changes that would affect the pay structure of students working in the Accelerator program, court documents show. Under Early’s plan, students would receive fellowships instead of formal wages, which worried Weinstein because he thought students would no longer be eligible for workers’ compensation. In response to an email from Weinstein to this effect, Early wrote, “I no longer want to hear about labor law issues” and “I’m tired of the path I’ve blocked.” Weinstein wrote an email to other colleagues about his concerns about “federal violations.” [labor] The law. “
Also in 2010, Weinstein raised concerns internally that the School of Business was violating institutional review board rules, saying that IRB approval was not required for students conducting research in the summer (Peck’s decision stated that Weinstein’s interpretation of the IRB rules was correct).
Beyond these two issues, Weinstein soon told the Office of University Compliance that another accelerator program run by Early’s wife, Mosakowski, was first interviewing disabled special Olympic athletes without IRB approval or parental consent. (Peck notes that this was confirmed in the test by a former athlete.)
In a final concern, Weinstein said he was concerned that the Early Scope Accelerator program had used his position as dean to provide financial benefits to Mosakowski with the director.
Although the then head of the Compliance Office testified that he believed Weinstein made his allegations in good faith, his allegations were never investigated (the office consulted informally with state ethics officials for advice). According to court documents, though, the second professor accused Early of being “nepotistic” about his wife.
Although Weinstein received strong performance appraisals from 2008 to 2010, he was not renewed in 2010 as Accelerator Program Director. All other program managers were renewed, and there were no other candidates for Weinstein’s directorial position. Early eventually hired someone else as director, although that person was not renewed as a faculty member in the program due to concerns about his effectiveness as a consultant. Early told Weinstein in a letter that he was not re-employed because Weinstein had not submitted the appropriate application materials and that Early had doubts about Weinstein’s “buy in” to redesign a program.
Weinstein again reported Early to the university’s compliance office, this time to avenge the whistleblowing, but he was instead asked to report to the State Human Rights and Opportunities Commission.
Conflict of interest?
Weinstein then filed an internal complaint, which was rejected – by Early, Peck’s decision states: “That is, the same person against whom the plaintiff claimed revenge for blowing the whistle was the person who decided that his claim had no merit.”
In the following academic year, Weinstein only worked as a non-tenor-track instructor, earning strong performance reviews. Even then he was not re-appointed to any post. According to court documents, Early wrote to Weinstein outside the school budget in January 2011, meaning Early’s mind was already formed. This was highly unusual: according to court documents, departments usually decide which non-term-track professors will be reappointed and which will not.
Weinstein filed another complaint, which was denied on the grounds that Weinstein was only teaching elective courses. But Peck writes that the university’s argument here has “no basis in reality.”
Furthermore, Peck writes, “Dean Early was not a credible witness on multiple issues” and “flip-flop” in his testimony as to whether he actually found various documents in question. Peck added that Early was an unreliable witness to his wife’s professional conduct, as some of his statements were “rejected by the fact that he and his wife had to enter into a written agreement in November 2010, specifically addressing issues of kinship.” . “
Parents say colleges and universities can value things differently than other types of employers, “I don’t see much difference between many colleges and universities and their management and then the private sector. “One set of directors or another – all of them have that lockstep, circle-the-wagon attitude when they are accused.”