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Flanders v. William Paterson College of New Jersey

Decided: March 25, 1976.

CLIFFORD A. FLANDERS, COMPLAINANT-RESPONDENT,
v.
WILLIAM PATERSON COLLEGE OF NEW JERSEY, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT. MAY B. HOLLINSHEAD, COMPLAINANT-RESPONDENT, V. COLLEGE OF MEDICINE AND DENTISTRY OF NEW JERSEY, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT



On appeal from final decisions of the Director of the Division on Civil Rights.

Fritz, Seidman and Milmed. The opinion of the court was delivered by Milmed, J.A.D.

Milmed

These consolidated appeals involve claims of discrimination in violation of the Law Against Discrimination, N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 et seq. In his complaint filed with the Division on Civil Rights (Division) in July 1972 Clifford A. Flanders, Ph.D., then 61 years old, alleged that he was not reappointed as Associate Professor of Chemistry and granted tenure at William Paterson College of New Jersey because of his "age." He had before then followed the in-college grievance procedure, but to no avail. In her complaint filed with the Division in October 1972 May B. Hollinshead, Ph.D., then an Associate Professor of Anatomy at the College of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, charged that she was denied promotion to the rank of full professor of anatomy at the College because of her "sex." She had before then unsuccessfully pursued the in-college promotion procedure. She later amended the complaint to further charge that because of her sex she was being paid less as Associate Professor than some males at the College who were either lower in rank than she or who had less time in rank than she.

In each case the respective institution denied the charges. In Dr. Flanders' case the reason given for his nonretention for a fourth year, which would have given him tenure status, was that the Chemistry Department was "overstaffed." In Dr. Hollinshead's case the reason given for not promoting her to a full professorship was, essentially, that while she had earlier in her career made important academic contributions,

her productivity seemed to have "plateaued." Field investigation resulted in a finding in each case of probable cause to credit the charges of discrimination. In each case a testimonial hearing was conducted by a hearing examiner in the Division, following which he submitted his recommended findings of fact and conclusions of law.

As to Dr. Flanders

The hearing examiner, after analyzing the testimony in the case found, among other things; that Flanders' performance at the College "was of high calibre and was never substantially challenged throughout his employment there"; that "the Administration recognized his teaching ability and past contributions to the College"; that the Chemistry Department Retention Committee in a rare unanimous decision had recommended in October 1971 that Flanders "be offered a new contract for a fourth year of employment to commence in September, 1972 (which would automatically entitle him to tenure)" but that the Dean reversed that decision; that the Dean had "stated in the presence of several witnesses produced by the State that either Dr. Flanders (age 60) or Dr. Rivela (age 29) could not be renewed for over-staffing reasons and that it was more important to retain (and thereby tenure) Rivela because he was younger and would be able to produce more for the College in the future"; that although the College Appeals Committee reversed the Dean's decision, the College president subsequently reversed the Appeals Committee determination and Flanders "was ultimately unable to obtain tenure or a new contract for the 1972-1973 school year," and that "on the basis of the evidence and his observation of the demeanor and credibility of all of the witnesses * * * age was at very least a conscious factor in the administration's decision to deny retention and tenure to the complainant [Flanders]."

The hearing examiner concluded in his Recommended Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law that the College

had practiced age discrimination in denying Dr. Flanders reappointment and recommended that Dr. Flanders be offered reinstatement (with its accompanying tenure) and receive back pay, less interim earnings, together with appropriate retirement plan contributions. The College filed exceptions to the hearing examiner's recommendations. The Director of the Division on Civil Rights concurred in the hearing examiner's recommendations, adopted them as his findings of fact and conclusions of law, and by order dated February 26, 1975 required the College, among other things, to offer Flanders reinstatement (with its accompanying tenure), to pay Flanders damages in the amount of $13,335 back pay, and to make appropriate contributions to Flanders' retirement plan.

On its appeal to this court William Paterson College contends that:

(1) There is a lack of substantial credible evidence to support the findings of the Division on Civil Rights that William Paterson College was motivated by discrimination in ...


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