UCLA lecturer hopes his lawsuit will thwart 'cancel culture techniques' in academia
He claims that his suspension caused him to lose other professional opportunities.
An instructor at UCLA is suing the school after he was suspended last summer for refusing to treat black students in his class differently.
Gordon Klein, a lawyer and accounting instructor at University of California Los Angeles' Anderson school of Management, recently filed a lawsuit against the school for damages after he was suspended last summer for refusing to treat black students in his class differently.
The controversy began when Klein refused to implement a special no harm grading policy exclusively for black students in the wake of George Floyd’s death and the BLM riots, Campus Reform reported in June 2020. As a result of the online backlash, Antonio Bernardo, dean of UCLA Anderson, suspended Klein from his lecturing position.
Meanwhile, threats of violence against the instructor reached the point that special police protection was required to ensure his safety.
With help from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, Klein was ultimately reinstated in September 2020 after the university’s Discrimination Prevention Office declined to pursue the investigation.
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However, as Klein explained in a September 30 Substack post on "Common Sense with Barri Weiss," the controversy still cost him professional opportunities consulting for law firms and corporations.
“Several of those firms dropped me after they got wind that I’d been suspended — the better to put distance between themselves and a 'racist.' That cost me the lion’s share of my annual income.”
“The students involved in this escapade may have moved on to other causes,” Klein added. “I have not. I’m not sure I ever will.
Klein told Campus Reform, "My lawsuit contends that the dean of the UCLA Anderson school, where I teach, maliciously used 'cancel culture' techniques to destroy my life and my livelihood.”
“If I prevail,” Klein said, “the dean will be held personally liable for the substantial financial harm he inflicted on my health, reputation, and private consulting business."
"By holding him personally accountable for his actions, the court will deter future administrators from maliciously or recklessly interfering with the free-speech rights of students and faculty," he added.
Klein also described the implications he hoped a successful lawsuit would have for higher education.
“A successful outcome in my lawsuit hopefully will remove some of the fears professors and students currently have about discussing controversial topics in class because university administrators who interfere with the free exchange of ideas may be held liable for their misconduct,” Klein stated.
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In a statement to Campus Reform, UCLA spokesperson Bill Kisliuk said, “We don’t comment on personnel litigation matters, but we are looking forward to having the facts fully addressed through the litigation process.”
In his post, Klein also issued a stern warning about the state of higher education in America more broadly.
“This is not just about principle,” Klein wrote. “It’s also about the United States’ ability to compete. Anderson, like elite business schools across the country, is supposed to be training the next generation of innovators."
“If we don’t maintain our standards — if we’re not allowed to push all of our students to do their very best — we will be disarming unilaterally. I refuse to do that, and I’m convinced, this recent episode notwithstanding, that most of my students and colleagues feel the same way,” he stated in "Common Sense."