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Wagner v. Jones et al

Case Summary: 3:09-cv-10

This is a 5 day jury trial regarding a civil action of employment discrimination filed by Teresa Wagner against Carolyn Jones, the former Dean of the College of Law at the University of Iowa, and Gail Agrawal, the current Dean of Iowa College of Law. Wagner contended that Jones repeatedly refused, and continues to refuse, to hire her as an Instructor of Legal Writing for illegal reasons: because she and the voting law faculty did not approve of her political views and affiliations. She argues that this motive behind the refusal to hire her is in violation of her First Amendment rights. Wagner has requested that Jones compensate her for lost income and benefits and emotional damages and that Agrawal hire her in the position.

The facts alleged in the complaint are as follows: Wagner is a Republican and has advocated conservative views, in particular against abortion and euthanasia, and has been affiliated with conservative public policy organizations. Defendant Jones is a registered Democrat, as were at least 46 of the 50 faculty members. Only 1 faculty member is a registered Republican and he was hired over 20 years ago. Jones had extensive writing experience, practice experience, and legal teaching experience. The College of Law hired, instead, a man who had only recently graduated from law school and had no writing, practice, or teaching experience.

The defendants allege that Ms. Wagner was not hired because in her “job talk” she said that she believed it was not her task as a writing instructor to teach legal analysis.

After 3 days of deliberations in this trial, the jury initially deadlocked on both counts. It then rendered a verdict for the defendants on Count One (political discrimination) and continued to deadlock on Count Two (equal protection). The Court entered judgment for Defendant on Count One and declared a mistrial on Count Two. This has been challenged by Plaintiff due to the initial deadlock on both counts and resolution is pending.

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