UIS Professor Files Federal Lawsuit for Denial of Emeritus Status


Ardeshir Lohrasbi, a former professor at the University of Illinois at Springfield, has filed a federal lawsuit against the school for denying him an emeritus status and its accompanying benefits (on-campus housing and teaching three classes per year) because of his race and Iranian origin.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued Lohrasbi a "right to sue" letter January 2013. The lawsuit filed last year also claims that the professor was banned from campus, the State-Journal Register reports.

Lohrasbi was handed over a "Notice of Trespass," by UIS Police Chief Donald Mitchell December 2011. When he refused to sign the notice, the professor was escorted from campus; placed on involuntary leave and was forbidden from teaching for the rest of the term.

Lohrasbi, a U.S. citizen, last held the position of an associate professor of business administration at UIS from 1980 through 2011. He also served as the chairman of several departments at UIS.

Replying to the lawsuit, UIC authorities said that Lohrasbi was removed from the campus because of his reference to guns and machine guns in a discussion and not because of his race and country of origin. Plus, the professor did not merit the title of emeritus status due to his insufficient qualifications.

In the lawsuit, Lohrasbi said that the discussion was regarding the death of a friend/colleague. During the time of the conversation, the professor said, "Sometimes people react to situations with guns and machine guns." The lawsuit stated that the university perceived his comments to be terrorist threats, whereas in reality, he was "referencing that sometimes people take their own lives by these methods."

The university said that the lawsuit should in fact be dismissed as it lost the "currency factor." A trial is scheduled in U.S. District Court of Sue Myerscough in Springfield May 2014.

Recently, a federal jury ruled in favor of University of North Carolina Professor Mike Adams, who was denied a promotion as full professor in 2006 because of his religious views. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina ordered April 9 that the University pay $50,000 to the criminology professor.

The university hired Adams, a former atheist, in 1993 as an assistant professor and promoted him to associate professor 1998. His application for promotion to full professor was frequently ignored after he  converted to Christianity 2000 as his political and social leanings had changed, he claimed.

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