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Judge Upholds Discrimination Lawsuit Against University of Idaho

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A federal judge has rejected a request by the University of Idaho (UI) to dismiss a discrimination lawsuit filed by a former College of Law professor in 2019.

US District Judge Barry Lynn Winmill dismissed the university’s argument that professor Shaakirrah Sanders failed to file her complaint on time to dispute the facts stipulated in the case.

The judge also learned that the school’s Office of Civil Rights and Investigations received 35 reports of sexual or racial discrimination at the College of Law since 2011.

Citing a formal review of UI discrimination cases, Winmill said several faculty members reported that “females are disproportionately shut down or admonished” by senior administrators. Gender bias also reportedly affected who was allowed to speak during meetings.

Despite rejecting UI’s request, the judge agreed to dismiss two claims based on alleged violations of laws concerning academic freedom and state whistleblower status.

About the Case

Sanders, who was hired to teach at the IU College of Law in 2011, filed a legal complaint against her former school after allegedly being “unfairly” denied an associate dean position in 2017.

Although she became the first African-American to achieve the rank of full professor at the university, she claims that she faced a variety of unfair conditions and terms of employment. When she tried to complain, she said school officials retaliated against her.

In an amended complaint filed last year, Sanders presented new allegations against the school. She stated that an IU dean recorded a forum she moderated without asking her permission. After complaining about it, the former professor allegedly received a poor yearly evaluation.

UI has yet to issue a statement regarding recent developments in the case.

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