·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary

Lawsuits & Litigation

Linfield University Professor Alleges Sexual Harassment in New Lawsuit

— July 19, 2021

A lawsuit was recently filed against Linfield University over allegations of sexual harassment.

Linfield University is at the center of a lawsuit filed by a former professor who was allegedly fired for “publicizing alleged sexual harassment and anti-Semitic incidents involving university leadership.” The former professor is Daniel Pollack-Pelzner. He taught English and was fired in April soon after he “publicly shared allegations of sexual harassment against top university board members and the president, Miles Davis, as well as alleged anti-Semitic comments from Davis.”

Gavel with law books; image by wp paarz, via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, no changes.
Gavel with law books; image by wp paarz, via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, no changes.

Pollack-Pelzner’s suit alleges his termination violated “protections for whistleblowers against retaliation, as well as breaching the Oregon Workplace Fairness Act, which prohibits employers from restricting employees’ ability to communicate about sexual harassment and assault.”

Linfield University officials are pushing back against the allegations. Scott Nelson, a spokesperson for the school, said, “Linfield’s priority is, and will remain, the safety and wellbeing of its students.” He added:

“It is disappointing but comes as no surprise that former professor Daniel Pollack-Pelzner has filed this lawsuit. We believe his claims are without merit and we will not let them be a distraction from the important work underway at the university.”

Before his termination, Pollack-Pelzner was questioned by university leaders on the truth of his accusations. The university also said, “at least some of the allegations had been investigated and were not substantiated, and faculty members familiar with the incidents say the investigations were flawed or incomplete.”

The conflict between the two parties eventually went public, drawing heated criticism and support for Linfield before his termination. Additionally, the allegations of anti-Semitic comments “drew condemnation from the Anti-Defamation League of the Pacific Northwest and the Oregon Board of Rabbis.” On top of that, Faculty members in Linfield’s College of Arts and Sciences “passed a vote of no confidence in President Davis and board chair David Baca.

After his termination support for the professor continued to grow, as did criticism toward Linfield. In fact, shortly after he was fired, the NAACP’s Salem-Keizer chapter released an investigation to determine if the professor’s concerns “fit in a context of racial discrimination at the institution.” However, many faculty members at the school “said they were not interviewed by NAACP after they asked questions about its focus.”

Another group that spoke out against Pollack-Pelzner’s termination was the American Association of University Professors. The organization decried his firing and announced that it would launch an independent investigation into what happened. Many supporters of the university also began distancing themselves from the school, including Ronni Lacroute, a longtime donor to the university.  


Fired Linfield University professor files lawsuit, alleging illegal retaliation

Fired professor files ‘whistleblower lawsuit’ alleging retaliation for his push to stop sexual misconduct

Join the conversation!