Archive for August, 2007

Monday, August 27th, 2007

In Hammer v. University of Michigan, Peter Hammer charges the University of Michigan Law School with anti-gay discrimination. Professor Hammer is the first openly gay professor to be considered for tenure at the University of Michigan Law School, and the first man in the history of that institution to be denied tenure. By a secret vote, a minority of the Law School faculty blocked his promotion.

The Complaint alleges a simple breach of contract theory, predicated on representations of non-discrimination during pre-employment negotiations, as well as University policies and by-laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual-orientation. Rather than building an affirmative case that no discrimination took place, the University’s initial stance was to maintain that its by-laws and non-discrimination policies had no legal meaning and created no rights. The same University that had defended the value of diversity in the U.S. Supreme Court was now vigorously defending its legal right to discriminate on whatever basis it wanted.

The Law School has filed two Motions for Summary Disposition. Each of these was denied. The trial court ruled that Hammer had established a legitimate claim of discrimination and that a trial on the merits was warranted. The Law School sought leave for an interlocutory appeal, only to have its application vacated as improvidently granted. The Law School has now been afforded an unprecedented third opportunity to seek summary disposition. The University brief is due September 15, 2007.

By posting the publicly filed court documents in Hammer v. University of Michigan, The Wayne OUTlaws seek to highlight the often hidden face of LGBT discrimination in higher education. This litigation is also an important study of how private law can be used to combat LGBT discrimination.

Look to the links on the right for more information about this lawsuit and related court documents. The goal of this website is to spark discussion and therefore we welcome comments from all viewpoints. Our aim is for thoughtful discourse and we may remove or edit abusive comments. For more on the posting policy see the About page.