Would-be professor again accuses UI of age discrimination

Dobkin accuses the College of Law of discriminating against candidates over age 40

Vanessa Miller
Published: July 23 2012 | 8:30 pm - Updated: 31 March 2014 | 10:06 pm in
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IOWA CITY — A 59-year-old immigration and administrative law attorney who refers to himself as “highly accomplished and internationally renowned” is suing the University of Iowa College of Law — again — on allegations that he was discriminated against a second time because of his age when he applied for a professor job in 2010.

Donald Dobkin, now 59, first sued the UI in 2009 after he didn’t land an interview for a teaching position in 2008, when he was 55. He said that even though administrators told him his resume was impressive, the job went to a younger candidate with inferior qualifications.

A jury heard arguments in that case Feb. 24 and sided with the university, finding that the UI did not discriminate against Dobkin. He was denied a new trial in that case and has filed an appeal, according to court records.

On Thursday, Dobkin filed a new lawsuit against the UI College of Law based on a second attempt to land a job there.

According to the new lawsuit filed in Johnson County Court, the law school advertised a professor position in August 2010, and Dobkin, 57 at the time, applied for the job, requesting placement among the immigration and administrative law faculty.

He was passed over, according to the lawsuit, and the UI instead hired a 40-year-old woman with limited experience.

In the new lawsuit, Dobkin states he obtained a copy of scores assigned to him — as a candidate for the job — by members of the UI’s Faculty Appointments Committee reviewing applications. Next to his name on the score sheet, according to documents attached to the lawsuit, are the following comments: “Plaintiff against us in age discrimination lawsuit, Eric may call general counsel about how to handle.”

According to the lawsuit, Dobkin founded and maintained for 25 years “the largest independent immigration law firm in the state of Michigan” and represented clients in more than 7,000 cases before the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Dobkin has a doctoral degree from Johns Hopkins University and he’s written numerous law publications, according to the lawsuit. He now holds a three-year appointment as an associate faculty member at the College of Graduate Studies at Central Michigan University.

In his second lawsuit against the UI, Dobkin is suing for age discrimination, discrimination of employment and retaliation.

The college retaliated against Dobkin for his previous lawsuit “when one of the members of the Faculty of Appointments Committee gave plaintiff a low score and specifically noted that plaintiff had a pending age discrimination lawsuit against them,” according to the suit.

The UI rejected Dobkin’s request for an interview the second time around, “never offering him an interview in person or by telephone,” the lawsuit states.

He accuses the College of Law of discriminating against candidates over age 40 “in that the policy, practice or procedure has resulted in no candidates over the age of 40 receiving an interview for an entry level professor faculty position in at least the past 25 years.”

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