An age discrimination lawsuit against Georgetown University Law Center regarding its hiring practices was dismissed May 9.

Former Attorney General of North Dakota Nicholas Spaeth filed a suit against six universities in 2011, including Georgetown, for failing to grant him an interview during the 2010-11 faculty member recruitment process. Since then, Spaeth has dropped four of the six cases, continuing suits against Georgetown and the University of Missouri School of Law.

Federal District Judge Ellen Huvelle, who presided over the case, said that the university successfully proved that its main criterion for hiring was academic scholarship. According to Huvelle, Spaeth did not list any relevant publications in his application, refuting the argument that the university’s focus on scholarship was a front for age discrimination. Furthermore, Huvelle wrote that Spaeth did not give substantial proof that he would have been chosen over the three applicants who were eventually hired, even if he had been granted an interview.

“Simply put, Spaeth has not demonstrated the necessary qualifications for an entry-level tenure-track position at the school,” Huvelle wrote in the summary judgment.

Although Spaeth provided evidence that the committee had made age-related comments during the hiring process, Huvelle said that the comments were misconstrued and taken out of context. Furthermore, Huvelle wrote that the use of the word “young” and other age-related words is generally relevant to the hiring process.

“Reference to age has some relevance in the academic hiring context, insofar as it constitutes a proxy for years producing scholarship, allowing comparisons within ‘rough age cohorts’ of the relative complexity and quantity of the scholarship,” Huvelle wrote.

Spaeth’s attorney, Lynne Bernabei, expressed disappointment in the outcome of the case.

“We continue to believe that this was not an appropriate case to receive summary judgment because there were many facts and disputes,” Bernabei said. “The record is complete with references to the age of the candidate. It was clearly a consideration in choosing the candidates that they interview, but the judge didn’t think there was enough in the record. I think a jury might have decided differently.”

Bernabei claimed that the university incorrectly correlated the words “young” and “junior” in its defense.

“There were many attempts to say that, well, young means junior. That’s not true,” Bernabei said. “Young is young; junior means lesser in rank.”

Although she was unsure whether Spaeth would consider appealing the judge’s decision, Bernabei said an appeal is still an option.

Law Center Executive Director of Communications Elissa Free declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Spaeth’s suit against the University of Missouri is still in the pretrial stage of discovery, when each party obtains evidence from the opposition.

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