Carl Peter Erlinder ()
A law professor who was held captive in Rwanda for three weeks in 2010 has sued William Mitchell College of Law, claiming the school failed to accommodate the post-traumatic stress disorder that resulted from his ordeal.
Carl Peter Erlinder filed suit on Feb. 7 in U.S. District Court for Minnesota raising a litany of claims, including violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act, breach of contract and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
His suit claims that administrators disregarded the advice of his medical team and created a hostile work environment.
Dean Eric Janus placed Erlinder on administrative leave in January 2012 and banned him from campus, according to the complaint. Erlinder stopped receiving compensation from the law school 18 months ago.
In its response, the law school alleged that Erlinder suffered a “severe mental health breakdown” in the months before he was placed on leave.
“At the time, Plaintiff engaged in workplace behaviors that were outrageously disruptive and unprofessional,” the response reads. “Though these behaviors were plainly contrary to the standards applicable to all of its faculty and employees, William Mitchell did not at that time discipline Plaintiff, but instead consulted with his psychiatrist.”
Erlinder’s own doctor recommended he be put on leave, the school claims, and he has failed to provide medical certification that he is fit to resume his duties. Erlinder denied that claim, alleging in his complaint that his own psychiatrist has repeatedly cleared him to return to teaching.
Erlinder has been a tenured law professor at William Mitchell since 1986. He has become a somewhat controversial figure in Rwanda, where he began conducting scholarly research and representing defendants before the International Criminal Tribunal in 2003. He was representing a former Rwandan presidential candidate in 2010 when he was detained by security forces and held captive.
Erlinder seeks reinstatement to the William Mitchell faculty, back pay and compensatory and punitive damages.