Faculty Evaluation And The Law

This manual is designed to help academic decision-makers understand and address some of the common legal issues that plague initial faculty employment decisions and subsequent evaluations. From recruitment to post-tenure review, this manual provides legal analyses and preventive strategies to help reduce conflict and potential exposure.

Personnel decisions are the most critical decisions administrators will make. These decisions vitally affect the future of the institution and establish its program and character.

Employment decisions are complicated by many mandates and legal decisions relating to nondiscrimination, provisions of benefits, retirement planning, record disclosure, and contract interpretation. Heightened concern about issues such as professional ethics and sexual harassment places additional responsibilities on colleges and their decision makers.

As a matter of law, the college generally is responsible and liable for the acts of its employees, including those who make personnel decisions. In relatively few instances are these personnel liable, even if named in a lawsuit.

In all of their roles-recruiter, evaluator, promoter, assessor, terminator, cheerleader and developer-college administrators make critical decisions that can and do generate litigation. Accordingly, it is in the interest of the college that personnel decisions be made by those who understand the law and take appropriate preventive actions.

This manual focuses on the following topics:

  • Colleges and the Constitution

  • Academic Freedom: Its Protections and Limitations

  • Access to Faculty Records

  • Student Evaluations of Professors

  • Dismissal for Cause and Lesser Sanctions

  • Academic Fraud and Scientific Misconduct

  • Defamation: References and Evaluation

  • Financial Exigency

  • Faculty Employment Discrimination: Sex, Race, and Age

  • Sexual Harassment

  • Retirement Planning and Incentive Programs

Each of these essays is presented with a common format: Overview, Application, and Preventive Measures. A selected bibliography follows each topic.

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