A well-known labor and employment expert has been removed from the classroom at Marquette University Law School amid allegations of an inappropriate relationship with a student.
The university removed Paul Secunda from the classroom two weeks before the end of the fall semester, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Thursday. University officials told the Journal that the decision was “the result of information developed from an investigation that began last May.” They declined to offer more details on the investigation or its origins, and a campus spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.
However, Secunda issued a statement to the Journal through his attorney, Jennifer Walther, saying that Marquette is acting to protect itself. “I cannot stand by idly in the face of what I believe to be an injustice. I have confidence in the process Marquette and the faculty have established to protect tenured professors in these circumstances, and believe I will clear my name at the end,” Secunda said in his statement.
Reached Thursday, Walther said she was not at liberty to comment on the situation beyond the statement Secunda issued to the Journal Sentinel. Secunda also declined Thursday to discuss the investigation.
According to the Journal, Secunda’s case will now be handled through Marquette’s Faculty Hearing process.
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Secunda has taught at Marquette Law since 2008. Prior to that, he was on the faculty at University of Mississippi School of Law and an associate in the labor and employment practice at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius.
Secunda is just the latest legal academic to come under scrutiny for alleged misconduct with students and staff. Yale Law School is reportedly investigating high-profile professor Jed Rubenfeld for allegedly crossing lines with female students he taught and mentored. Meanwhile, Indiana University is investigating new professor Ian Samuel for possible violations of Title IX, which prohibit gender discrimination and sexual misconduct on campus. And University of Illinois law professor Jay Kesan is on a yearlong leave of absence resulting from an earlier investigation into ongoing inappropriate conduct with female students and fellow faculty members. (The university’s investigation found that Kesan’s behavior violated the campus code of conduct but did not rise to the level of sexual misconduct. But students called for his dismissal once word of the 2017 investigation went public.)
Secunda is a prominent academic and lists employment discrimination law and education law among his areas of expertise. He has chaired three different Association of American Law Schools sections: employee benefits and executive compensation; labor relations and employment law; and employment discrimination law.