Volume 5, Issue 1 University of Houston
UH wins final battle in discrimination lawsuit
By Nikie Johnson
The University will not have to go back to court for another battle over a discrimination lawsuit that, despite a jury's decision for UH, has been causing contention for the last six weeks.
A district judge denied a former UH employee's motion for a new trial in her lawsuit against the University, which was requested after allegations were leveled that two UH witnesses committed perjury.
Beverly Gor, a former lecturer in the College of Technology and a registered dietician, filed a lawsuit in 2001 claiming she'd been discriminated and retaliated against when she was passed over for a new job in 1995.
Her claims of discrimination were based on a letter she wrote on behalf of another professor, who was filing a complaint of discrimination against a third professor, Ira Wolinsky.
Gor said she wrote a letter detailing her own experiences with Wolinsky, who was later on the search committee for the job she applied for, which she claimed caused him to influence the committee against her.
The case went to trial in October, and the jury found for the University. Immediately after the trial ended, Gor's lawyers filed a motion for a new trial, claiming two of the witnesses called by the University had lied on the stand while talking about the nature of the job Gor had applied for.
According to Gor's motion, the testimony given by the witnesses "was on a pivotal matter -- the classification of the position (Gor had applied for). The classification dictates whether interviews, among other checks and balances, were required for the position at issue."
Gor applied for the position of the director of a dietetic internship program, which had just been created. According to Gor, the position was classified as a staff position, and so under the Recruitment Guidelines, applicants should have been interviewed, which she was not.
In their response, UH's lawyers argued the position was a non-tenure track faculty position, not a staff position, but that "it matters not a whit whether the position was (non-tenure track) faculty of staff -- no interviews are required for either type of position."
Gor's lawyers, Katherine Butler and Margaret Harris of Butler & Harris, wrote in their motion, "It appears that the University intentionally sought to deceive the plaintiff and this Court by acknowledging the job's classification as being staff before the trial and changing its position only at trial, when it knew that the plaintiff could not effectively respond. This is trial ambush at its worst."
In its harshly worded response, the University, which was represented by the State Attorney General's Office, wrote, "Plaintiff's counsel's scurrilous imputation of intentional deceit to Defendant's counsel is worthy of sanction.
"(The) Defendant did not deceive the court or the Plaintiff 'by acknowledging the job's classification as being staff before the trial' because no such 'acknowledgement' was ever made ... To the extent it is relevant, (the job's classification) was identified as a contested issue of fact vis a vis whether policy required interviews."
Gor's motion for a new trial was filed Oct. 30, and a motion for her lawyers to be allowed to contact jurors was filed Nov. 5 and granted that day by Southern District Court Judge David Hittner.
The University's response was filed Dec. 2, and Hittner denied Gor's motion Dec. 5.
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