UCLA accounting lecturer files lawsuit against dean and UC Board of Regents
A UCLA lecturer that was previously placed on temporary administrative leave filed a lawsuit Monday, alleging the university’s conduct violated his employment contract and privacy rights. (Daily Bruin file photo)
By Justin Jung
Sept. 30, 2021 2:07 p.m.
UCLA lecturer Gordon Klein filed a lawsuit Monday against the dean of the UCLA Anderson School of Management and University of California Board of Regents.
The lawsuit against Dean Antonio Bernardo and the UC Regents alleged the university’s conduct breached his employment contract, violated his right to privacy and amounted to retaliatory discrimination.
Klein, a lecturer at the School of Management, was placed on administrative leave in June 2020 following an email he sent to students rejecting their suggestions for grading accommodations for Black students in his class. He was later reinstated by September 2020.
In June 2020, amid nationwide protests against racial injustice, students asked Klein to make final exams for Black students no-harm – meaning they would only be considered in final grades if the score would improve or not impact a student’s overall grade.
Klein rejected the proposal in an email using questions that were later called insensitive by students, resulting in a student petition to have him fired that garnered over 20,000 signatures. A counterpetition defending Klein and asking for him to be reinstated received more than 75,000 signatures.
Klein’s lawsuit denied that his conduct was racially insensitive, adding that he rejected the proposed grading scheme because he believed “preferential treatment to students on the basis of race” is discriminatory.
Klein’s lawsuit alleged the university repeatedly published private information about him that was misleading or incorrect.
During the course of Klein’s investigation and immediately following his reinstatement, Dean Bernardo sent multiple emails to Anderson students, faculty and alumni updating them on the proceedings, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit added that Bernardo’s emails implied Klein’s conduct had been racially discriminatory, which Klein contests.
The lawsuit said that the university’s actions wrongfully damaged Klein’s public reputation, which in turn, resulted in loss of income from his private consulting work. Klein also experienced emotional and physical distress due to the university’s conduct, the lawsuit added.
The School of Management declined to comment, citing confidentiality and privacy laws.