Faculty Advocate Volume 24:2 (December 19, 2014)

FACULTY ADVOCATE


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Volume 24: Number 2, December 19, 2014 (labor donated) 

Campus Contacts: 

Francesca Sammarruca (fsammarr@uidaho.edu), Randy Berriochoa (berrioch@csi.edu), Craig Steenberg (csteenbe@lcsc.edu), John Trombold(NIC) (jmtrombold@yahoo.com), Jim Stockton (jstockto@boisestate.edu), Dave Delehanty (deledavi@isu.edu)

Nick Gier, President (ngier006@gmail.com)

Kim Johnson, Vice-President (kajohnso@nic.edu)

 Please Join Us in Protecting Faculty Rights; Increasing Salaries and Benefits

Members of the American Federation of Teachers receive a $1,000,000 professional and legal liability policy, access to legal and moral support, and national/state AFT publications. For application forms please go to www.idaho-aft.org/IftDues.htm.

In this Issue:

 NIC Faculty Seek Legal Advice on Salary Step System

Update on Sanjay Gupta’s Sexual Harassment Case

 NIC Faculty Seek Legal Advice on Salary Step System

 North Idaho College is the only Idaho campus that has a salary schedule, which guarantees an annual step increase for all faculty who perform at a satisfactory level. This annual increment is mandated by the NIC policy manual, and it is separate from additional funds that increase salaries in every step.

 

NIC presidents and the NIC Board of Trustees, citing chronic budget problems, have failed to fund these steps in seven of the past 12 years. At a May 2014 meeting Board Member Christie Wood admitted that that funding the steps was a contractual obligation.

 

The North Idaho Federation of Teachers has hired attorney Douglas Pierce from the firm James, Vernon and Weeks to research this issue.  In a recent letter to NIC president Joe Dunlap, Pierce states that the NIC Board and the administration have a fiduciary duty that requires conducting transactions in the best interest of the college.  This fiduciary duty is not reducible to minimizing the college’s financial costs purely and simply. Pierce reminds Dunlap that abiding by published agreements, including the faculty salary schedule, is in the best interest of the institution.

 

In a recent meeting of the IFT Executive Board, it was agreed that the IFT will match any legal fees that the NIFT incurs in the process of settling this fundamental issue.

 

An Update on the Sanjay Gupta Sexual Harassment Case

 

Damage could result to the career and reputation of any person who is accused of sexual harassment falsely or not in good faith.

 

UI Faculty Staff Handbook, Section3220 C-2

 

The depositions in the Sanjay Gupta case were taken October 13-15, and a Moscow jury trial is set for June of next year. Since then Gupta has received a very strong letter of support from a former investigator for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. With legal aid from local, state, and national chapters of the AFT, we are confident that he will prevail in court.

 

Sanjay Gupta was an assistant professor of plant science, who worked for at the Kimberly Research Station until 2011, when he was accused and later dismissed on charges of sexual harassment. The details of the case were published in this newsletter (see www.idaho-aft.org/Gupta1331.pdf), and we have reprinted the results of Gupta’s appeal just below.

 

Gupta waited eight long months for his appeal to be scheduled. A panel of five faculty met on March 21, 2013, and they voted 3-2 that the evidence against Gupta was not enough to warrant dismissal. Here is a summary of their findings:

 

  • Some of the evidence the university administration presented at the termination hearing was known to have been falsified.
  • There is an alternative and plausible explanation for virtually every single allegation made against Gupta.
  • The panel worried that the case was investigated during a time of heightened sensitivity because of the two previous high profile cases.
  • The UI should have a high standard for the evidence it presents against one of its faculty, and it should discard it once it has been proven either false or unreliable.

 

Interim President Donald Burnett refused to respond to the appeal decision, and he rejected a very reasonable offer of settlement.  UI policy requires that the administration respond to any appeal decision within 45 days.

 

Everywhere Gupta turned for comparable employment, he found that the false charges arrived before he could apply. Gupta was shocked to learn that some of these prospective employers knew about the accusations even before the UI made his suspension official. He is now in a temporary, post-doctoral position with his former employers at the University of Minnesota, who know very well that he is innocent.

 

Currently, Gupta’s applications for research funding are in limbo because of questions about what happened in Idaho. Early in 2011 Gupta received a 4-year $7.8 million research grant that he obtained with five other scientists, and his share of the funds and data generated in his lab are now being used by a woman who testified against him. Part of the lawsuit charges theft of intellectual property.

 

We will stand by him until his good name is cleared, and when he is able to receive compensation for lost wages, losses on a home in Twin Falls, $30,000 in unpaid attorneys’ fees, current legal costs, and emotional damage to him and his wife.

 

Please Join Us in Protecting Faculty Rights; Increasing Salaries and Benefits

 

Members of the American Federation of Teachers receive a $1,000,000 professional and legal liability policy, access to legal and moral support, and national/state AFT publications. For application forms please go to www.idaho-aft.org/IftDues.htm.