Court throws out gender claim in UC-Davis suit

Court throws out gender claim in UC-Davis suit

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Dec 01, 2004

DAVIS, CALIF.—On Oct. 18, the Court of Appeal of the State of California, Third Appellate District, dismissed Dr. Carol Mandell's accusations of gender discrimination and national origin discrimination, but it said there is sufficient evidence to pursue an age discrimination case.

Mandell levels accusations at California-Davis (UC-Davis) leadership, who allegedly said the university wants to hire young people to compensate for its aging faculty.

University representatives do not deny statements were made regarding the level of experience they were looking for to fill the position, but they say that it isn't the same as saying they will not hire anyone more than age 40.

Age and gender discrimination accusations were made against the UC-Davis after a female DVM applied for a tenure-track position and was denied.

Mandell had been employed in teaching and research positions for 15 years when she applied for a tenure-track position in 1999 at the UC-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Four women and one man had applied for the position. Mandell says during and after her interview, UC-Davis faculty and search committee members, who allegedly wanted to hire a young person for the position, made age-biased statements. Mandell was 47-years-old when she applied for the position, and the male applicant was 31, according to court documents.

"The decision of who to hire for the position was not based on age," says Steven Drown, campus council, UC-Davis. "We wanted to hire someone for an assistant-professor position, so it would make sense to hire someone who has less experience."

The male candidate did not possess a doctorate at the time of application, Mandell contends.

In 2000, Mandell was told her position as a lecturer at UC-Davis would not be renewed. She then sued the university regents for gender and age discrimination. When the case was dismissed through the courts, Mandell appealed the ruling.

Mandell's attorney, Dan Siegel, says the university is denying any form of gender discrimination, and the university states the pathology, microbiology and immunology (PMI) departments have hired more women than men in recent history.

Mandell v. The Regents of the University of California is an ongoing case, however, the court states they fail to see any appreciable difference between a statement that says the regents will not hire anyone more than age 40, or the regents will only hire someone who is young.

Mandell currently is working as a relief veterinarian and plans to continue fighting for her case.

"We are pleased the Court of Appeals has reinstated the age discrimination and have come to terms with the dismissal against gender," Siegel says.

But representatives of the university say they do not settle cases for "nuisance purposes" and have no plans in the near future to settle with Mandell.

"We are evaluating what our next steps are," Drown says. "A settlement is not appropriate in this case; we believe we acted appropriately."