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Monday, June 23, 2008

Ind. Decisions - "Legal Win for Indiana Faculty Who Aren’t Renewed"

The Indiana Supreme Court's June 17th decision in the case of Indiana State University v. William C. LaFief and IDWD (Review Bd.) - see ILB entry here - is the subject of a comprehensive story dated June 23 in Inside Higher Education. Some quotes:

If a university declined to renew a non-tenure-track professor’s fixed-term teaching contract, is the professor then voluntarily unemployed? According to the Indiana Supreme Court last week, the answer is no, a decision that would make the former employee eligible for unemployment benefits — just as if he had been terminated through no fault of his own. * * *

The original legal dispute pitted marketing professor William LaFief against his former employer, Indiana State University, which first hired him in 2004 for a one-year, renewable basis. Although his employment contract was continued for the 2005-2006 academic year following an annual review, the university declined to keep LaFief on for a third year.

After LaFief filed for unemployment, an administrative law judge rejected his request on the grounds that he was not “discharged” but that, instead, his contract had come to an end. The Review Board of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development reversed the decision, arguing that not renewing the contract was effectively equivalent to a discharge, but an appeals court subsequently found otherwise — that not being reappointed was the foreseeable outcome of a voluntary contract that ended on terms LaFief initially agreed to — leaving the final word to the state’s high court, which upheld the review board’s initial finding.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 23, 2008 10:20 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions