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Black Legal Scholar Sues Campbell, Catholic Universities

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Amos Jones, the Black law professor who in July accused Campbell University of refusing to tenure Blacks in its law school, has filed an 86-page lawsuit against the Baptist-affiliated school.

Jones, a civil rights attorney and expert on contracts, has also sued Catholic University of America.

Amos Jones

Jones’s charges center on the process and effect of a series of actions that he alleges cost him tenure at the North Carolina school and derailed an upward trajectory in the legal academy. He had taught at Campbell for six years and in previous federal filings had documented correspondence from June 2016 stating that his tenure was all but assured. Implicated by March 2017 was The Catholic University of America’s law school, with whom, Jones’s complaint states, he had interviewed for a constitutional-law appointment in 2009.

Jones’s complaint accuses CUA of directly interfering with his prospective economic gain as a professor at Campbell and indirectly affecting at least one of his applications for positions at Howard University School of Law by colluding with Campbell and making improper disclosures revealed at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last spring.

The lawsuit alleges that Campbell officials tabled Jones’s tenure applications in 2015-16 and again in 2016-17 while the university violated provisions of the employment contract, faculty handbook, and/or Tenure Policy, intentionally diminishing his opportunities to pursue appointment elsewhere. It also quotes Campbell’s own insurance company as attributing the anxiety Jones experienced over his last semester “entirely” to Campbell’s hostile work environment in a report issued on October 19, 2017.

The 11 counts in the D.C. Superior Court complaint filed earlier this week, target seven individual and corporate defendants and allege fraud, false pretenses, breach of contract, defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, tortious interference with contractual relations, invasion of privacy, conversion, and civil-rights violations, including retaliation.

In an interview with Diverse, Jones said he wants the court to order his reinstatement at Campbell University with tenure and back pay, front pay, attorneys’ fees, and other damages while finding against Catholic University of America for invasion of privacy and tortious interference with contractual relations.

Named defendants include Campbell president John Bradley Creed, law school dean J. Rich Leonard, general counsel Robert Cogswell, associate dean Timothy Zinnecker, professor Susan Thrower, and corporations Campbell University and The Catholic University of America.

Campbell University Dean J. Rich Leonard, General Counsel Robert Cogswell, and external counsel Thomas Farr did not return telephone calls seeking comment. Nor did Daniel F. Attridge, Dean of The Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law.

“My legal team and I look forward to proving every bit of malfeasance in a public trial where these defendants are called to account under oath,” Jones said.

The complaint claims that Jones faced a hostile work environment at Campbell.

“One White conservative student complained to Professor Jones that Assistant Professor Allegra Collins had used her class time to talk about Professor Jones’s charges and stated that ‘Campbell will take care of it’,” the suit states in its preliminary statement. “This professor — a Campbell Law alumna. . . is now running for the North Carolina Court of Appeals to join her husband as a state-court judge.”

The complaint also charges that Thrower, Jones’s tenured mentor, attempted to frame him eleven weeks into a federal investigation of Campbell Law School initiated by Jones on January 10. The lawsuit alleges that Thrower, assisted by Cogswell and Leonard, attempted to have Jones’s record sullied by alleging reckless driving, even though, according to the lawsuit, videotaped evidence appears to show Jones on film teaching a Contracts II class at the time. Thrower allegedly claims Jones scared her by the way he had parked his car.

Jones describes his lawsuit as reflecting the current national tide against workplace harassment.

“With the me-too movement making its mark, we’ve found ourselves collectively wondering why so many victims of harassment have departed their workplaces in silence for so long,” Jones said. “My dispute with Campbell University shows why. The enabling university officers – always from society’s dominant power groups and always assisted by lawyers who benefit from the lavish billings that prolonged litigation brings – publicly blame, marginalize, defame, and then dismiss the whistle-blowing victim, in turn frightening co-employee witnesses into submission and silence, if not outright complicity in schemes like those exposed in this lawsuit. It’s nothing but high-brow bullying, and people in the legal-defense industry keep it going.”

Jones, who taught contracts, ethics, and a legal-history elective at Campbell, currently practices law in Washington, D.C., while serving as Executive Director of the African-American Trust for Historic Preservation in his hometown of Lexington, Ky. A 2006 graduate of Harvard Law School, he was named a 2017 Super Lawyers Rising Star in the field of employment litigation, rating in the top 2.7% of D.C. lawyers under 40 years old.

“At some point, somebody has to fight back in real time, instead of waiting 20 or 30  years,” Jones said. “This is our moment for divine reckoning .”

Jones is represented by Dhali PLLC in Washington.

Jamal Eric Watson can be reached at jwatson1@diverseeducation.com. You can follow him on Twitter @jamalericwatson

 

 

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