Despite an inconclusive mistrial, a federal jury believed that Teresa Wagner was denied a job by the University of Iowa Law School because of her political views.
Federal law does not recognize a claim of political discrimination against an institution, so this prevented the school itself from being named as a defendant in the lawsuit. The jury was unwilling to hold the former Dean personally responsible.
The Des Moines Register tracked down some of the jury members to find out what they thought:
“ ‘I will say that everyone in that jury room believed that she had been discriminated against,” said Davenport resident Carol Tracy, the jury forewoman.’
Wagner, a graduate of Iowa’s law school who already worked on campus part time, had excellent and varied legal credentials but was turned down for the job as full-time writing instructor. She claimed it was because of her political views, and there were emails among the law school faculty to that effect. The job went to someone who had no law practice experience and no published works but was “an ardent liberal.”
Wagner is a pro-life Republican.
Wagner and her attorneys have filed a motion for a new trial, so the controversy over the University of Iowa Law School hiring practices if far from over. As the Register further explains,
“The jury’s belief that Wagner was a victim of discrimination is significant as the case heads toward a retrial that will cost the state thousands of dollars to litigate and could cost the university hundreds of thousands of dollars should it lose or settle out of court, scholars following the case said.”
The implications of this case go far beyond this one university. If you are generally familiar with academic hiring practices, it is often nearly impossible to get hired or tenured if the scholar, regardless of the quality of a resume, is an acknowledged political conservative or a libertarian. Most universities, when it comes to politics, do not “celebrate diversity.”