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Paula Rogers case

2/19/2010: I got an extensive anonymous post in the comments section this morning from a Paula Rogers supporter. I don’t have any inside knowledge about this case, but the general pattern of retaliation – for which the jury awarded damages – and counterproductive behavior by the UO General Counsel’s office described here sure rings some bells. Frohnmayer kept Melinda Grier on because she was willing to hide things for him, and he had a lot to hide. Here’s hoping Lariviere soon decides he’d rather have someone competent as his lawyer.

Anonymous said…
The recent jury verdict related to charges of race-ethnic discrimination at the UO simply confirms the patterns of retaliation and hostile employee relations that are documented throughout this blog. My understanding of the situation is that Professor Rogers reported wrong-doing, including illegal discrimination, to University authorities. She then experienced systematic retaliation, ending in the termination of her contract. This termination was exacted in a highly irregular fashion and contrary to the vote of both the midterm review committee (including both departmental and external members) and her department. Until reporting the illegal discrimination all reviews of her work had been exemplary. The retaliation was clearly spearheaded by those who were the focus of the reports of discriminatory behavior.

This pattern of discrimination and, especially, retaliation has been repeated numerous times throughout the University. When challenged, the University, using the Attorney General’s office, spends inordinate amounts of money fighting charges of discrimination. (For instance, the state has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting this particular case and that is before payment of damages and legal costs to the plaintiff.) The administration also engages in extraordinary measures to harass those who dare to challenge them, with numerous and varied attempts to ruin reputations and financial standing of their challengers and their families and friends. Only a very few, brave people are ever able to withstand the onslaught and the deep – in fact virtually bottomless – pockets of the University and the state’s legal apparatus.

The UO’s approach to employees appears to involve fierce attacks on anyone who dares to question an administrative decision or to point out possible wrongdoing. One, now retired, administrator has been quoted as saying, “We’ll always fight as hard as we can against employees. Only a few people will have the energy to continue all the way against us. Even if we eventually lose a few cases, most people will be too scared to take it all the way, even if they have the law on their side. Thus we probably save money by playing hard ball.”

I’m not a lawyer, but I have been told that smart organizations approach employment relations in a manner exactly opposite to this. Smart organizations use employment lawyers to help them figure out how to conform to laws and regulations and obey employment related laws – not to harass and intimidate employees or to justify decisions and practices that are blatantly illegal. It is time that the UO entered the 21st century and began to do the same. They should reinstate Professor Rogers to her position and develop fair, non-discriminatory practices and procedures.

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