A UCLA professor has filed a lawsuit against the school after he was briefly suspended last year over his refusal to grade black students more leniently amid nationwide Black Lives Matter protests.
Gordon Klein, who is an accounting lecturer at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, wrote in a blog post that he believed his suspension was a “well-timed publicity stunt” to distract from the school’s reputation as “an inhospitable place for persons of color.”
The UCLA Anderson School of Management is a prestigious graduate business school, which recently ranked 15th in a Global MBA Ranking, Insider reported.
In the blog post, Klein said that in June of last year a non-Black student wrote to him to ask for him to grade his Black students with a “no harm” policy, meaning the results should only be counted if it boosted a student’s grade.
The student went on to refer to recent events including the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd and the COVID-19 pandemic, which they said had disproportionately affected the Black community.
“As we approach finals week, we recognize that these conditions place Black students at an unfair academic disadvantage due to traumatic circumstances out of their control,” the student said.
Klein said he believed the email was “deeply patronizing and offensive” to Black students, and he penned a sarcastic reply.
He said: “Are there any students that may be of mixed parentage, such as half black half-Asian? What do you suggest I do with respect to them? A full concession or just half? Also, do you have any idea if any students are from Minneapolis? I assume that they are probably especially devastated as well. I am thinking that a white student from there might possibly be even more devastated by this, especially because some might think that they’re racist even if they are not.”
Following the email exchange, students condemned his “woefully racist” response and started a petition to have him fired, which gained over 20,000 signatures in two days.
The dean of UCLA’s business school launched an investigation into the incident and briefly suspended Klein before reinstating him three weeks later.
But Klein was not mollified and On September 27, Klein filed suit against Dean Antonio Bernardo and UCLA in Los Angeles Superior Court for breach of contract, defamation, political bias, labor law violations, violation of privacy, and interference with his consulting business.
In the blog post, entitled “Why I am Suing UCLA,” Klein rejected the accusations of racism and criticized the school’s handling of the situation.
“From the start, my whole point had been that all students, irrespective of skin color, should be treated the same,” Klein said.
Klein claimed that UCLA capitalized on the incident to distract from the school’s reputation of not being very diverse.
He said that Anderson hadn’t granted a Black professor tenure in decades and Black students made up about two percent of the student body.
In the blog post, Klein said that the incident led to him receiving death threats and anti-Semitic abuse.
He added that the incident caused him a $500,000 loss of income from consulting law firms and other corporations, which dropped him in the wake of the saga.
“No employee should ever cower in fear of his employer’s power to silence legitimate points of view, and no society should tolerate government-sponsored autocrats violating constitutional mandates,” he said.
An opinion column for the Washington Post on October 8, written by George F. Will, was headlined: “The woke mob runs into a college teacher who’s fighting back.”
A UCLA spokesperson told Insider, “We don’t comment on personnel litigation matters, but we are looking forward to having the facts fully addressed through the litigation process.”
Insider also contacted Klein for comment.