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University of California accused of whistleblower retaliation

A former math lecturer for the University of California claims that he lost his job due to retaliation. He has sued the UC Board of Regents, alleged retaliation and wrongful termination. The plaintiff had been on the staff at UC Berkeley since 2013.

According to the complaint, the plaintiff believed that the university was violating the law, and he brought his concerns to his superiors. However, he claims that his ethics came with a price, causing him to lose his job. He believed that his termination violated his contract, so he filed a grievance. The university agreed to meet with him to discuss it, but a month later, it allegedly had still not responded within the time limit set forth in his contract. Apparently, the union no longer represented the plaintiff because he refused to give the UC an extension to make a decision.

Before his termination was final, the plaintiff wrote about what he believed had happened on his blog. He suggested that the university was trying to get rid of all of the best teachers. Many of his students became aware of his situation and started to protest his firing.

The California Labor Code bars employers from retaliating against an employee for being a whistleblower. The plaintiff is accusing the UC Board of regents of discrimination, whistleblower retaliation, defamation and violating the federal Fair Employment and Housing Act. He seeks $2.5 million in damages as well as other penalties and legal costs. The university released a statement that lecturers are commonly only there to teach for a short time and, when that time comes, the contract automatically expires.

Source: dailycal.org, "Campus math lecturer Alexander Coward sues UC regents, alleging wrongful termination", Adrienne Shih and Austin Weinsteinlast, Jan. 26, 2016

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