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Case Western Reserve University Law Professor Sues Dean Lawrence E. Mitchell for Retaliation

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Complaint alleges dean retaliated against Professor Raymond Ku when Ku reported to University Provost Baeslack concerns that dean had been engaged in sexual harassment of others

Case Western Reserve University Law Professor Sues Dean Lawrence E. Mitchell for Retaliation
Chandra Law today filed suit to vindicate the rights of Professor and former Associate Dean for Academic Affairs of Case Western Reserve University School of Law, Raymond Ku. Suit was filed against Dean Lawrence E. Mitchell, pictured on the right.

CLEVELAND, OHIO – Today, Professor Raymond Ku, a current professor and the former Associate Dean for Academic Affairs of the Case Western Reserve University School of Law, filed a civil lawsuit against Dean Lawrence E. Mitchell and the University alleging that Mitchell retaliated against Ku after Professor Ku in 2011 reported, to the University's provost, vice president for diversity, and faculty diversity officer, allegations that Mitchell had potentially sexually harassed law-school faculty and staff. The suit was filed in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas.

Professor Ku has since 2003 been a tenured Case Law faculty member, rising to Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in 2010. Dean Mitchell has been Case Law's dean since 2011, and was previously a professor at George Washington University (GW). The complaint alleges that Case's deanship search committee had been aware of concerns about Mitchell's potential sexual misconduct at GW, including his relationship with a GW law student.

The Complaint alleges as follows:

  • In about August 2011, Ku personally observed Mitchell caress a female staff member and became aware of allegations by other women at Case that Mitchell had made inappropriate comments to several law professors and another staff member.
  • Mitchell retaliated against Ku by, among other things, threatening to fire him; ending all face-to-face communication with him; stripping him of his substantive responsibilities as associate dean and constructively discharging him from that position; working to discredit him among his colleagues on the faculty; refusing to consider him for an endowed chair; discontinuing his co-directorship of the Center for Law, Technology & the Arts; and cutting Ku's compensation.
  • Provost W.A. "Bud" Baeslack; Vice President for Diversity, Inclusion & Equal Opportunity Marilyn Mobley; Faculty Diversity Officer John Clochesy; and possibly President Barbara Snyder were aware of the retaliation against Professor Ku but no one took action to stop or remedy it after Ku filed a formal complaint.
  • After a staff member reported Dean Mitchell's sexual relationship with a Case law student to Provost Baeslack, Vice President Mobley, and Vice President of Human Resources Carolyn Gregory, the staff member was briefly reassigned to work for Gregory, and then ostensibly "laid off for budgetary reasons."
  • Peter M. Poulos, Case's Chief Litigation Counsel and Chief Risk-Management Officer, met with law-school faculty and staff, including Dean Mitchell, and warned them to follow the university's mandatory-sexual-harassment-reporting policy-and against retaliation. But Dean Mitchell continued to retaliate against Professor Ku anyway.

Subodh Chandra, Professor Ku's lead counsel, said, "Professor Ku paid a high price for doing what was both required and right-standing up for victims at great personal risk and reporting to senior university officials Dean Mitchell's potential harassment. But retaliation is illegal and a law-school dean should know he is not above the law. The only question now is whether Case will continue to blindly back Dean Mitchell despite these circumstances, or whether it will live up to its own policies and ideals for the sake of its students, staff, and faculty. In any case, Professor Ku has had enough. There will be accountability."

The suit, captioned Ku v. Mitchell, et al., Case No. CV 13 815935, was filed in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, and is assigned to Judge Peter J. Corrigan.

Before Dean Mitchell's tenure, Chandra served Case Law as Distinguished Practitioner in Residence and full Adjunct Professor of Law, teaching legal ethics and appellate practice.

Those who wish to share information with Professor Ku's counsel regarding this matter may email or call 216.578.1700.

Related Practice Areas
Employment DiscriminationEmployment RetaliationSexual HarassmentSex/gender Discrimination

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