A Michigan attorney has hit the University of Iowa College of Law with a discrimination lawsuit charging that the school passed him over for a faculty job in favor of younger contenders.
Filed in the U.S. District Court in Davenport, Iowa, the lawsuit alleges that although the chairman of the school’s faculty appointments committee told plaintiff Donald Dobkin that he had an impressive academic and professional record, the school did not grant him an interview.
Instead, Dobkin asserts, it offered the job to two other candidates, both under 40 and both less qualified. Dobkin was 55 when he applied for the job in August 2008.
The lawsuit alleges that the school has not hired any professors under age 40 in 10 years.
The lawsuit claims violations of federal and state age discrimination laws. It also claims that the screening committee’s policy at the law school, although age-neutral on its face, nevertheless has the effect of discriminating against older applicants.
A spokesman for the University of Iowa College of Law declined to comment on the pending litigation.
Dobkin, a professor at the University of Central Michigan, received a bachelor of laws degree from the University of Windsor in Canada and an LL.M. from Northwestern University School of Law. According to Martindale.com, he has published numerous articles on immigration and constitutional law. His complaint asserts that he was in private practice for 25 years and has handled more than 7,000 cases before the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
Dobkin responded to an advertisement that the University of Iowa College of Law ran in the Association of American Law Schools bulletin that said it was seeking scholars and teachers with experience in administrative law, immigration and other practice areas, his complaint alleges.
Dobkin, who could not be reached for comment, is claiming damages for lost earnings and is seeking a position on the Iowa law school faculty or, alternatively, future compensation.
His attorney, Stephen T. Fieweger of Katz, Huntoon & Fieweger in Moline, Ill., said that Dobkin’s situation was “endemic” to law schools, which he said traditionally favor younger scholars over seasoned practitioners in their hiring processes.
“Who would you rather have teaching future lawyers?” he said.