School of Management professor Constance Bagley’s lawsuit against the University is one step closer to trial.

Bagley, who is currently teaching at Yale, filed a case against the University in December claiming that she was not reappointed to her professorship in May 2012 because of discrimination based on gender and age. She also accused her colleague Douglas Rae — with whom Bagley co-taught a course — of repeated acts of discrimination. Her suit targets SOM Dean Edward Snyder and SOM Deputy Dean Andrew Metrick as well.

In a decision issued Tuesday, Senior United States District Judge Charles Haight dismissed four of the 18 counts against the University in Bagley’s original suit. However, Haight also denied a motion filed by Yale in March to dismiss all of the counts, paving the way for the case to move to trial.

“I thought it was a very well-reasoned opinion and am pleased with the result. All I’ve wanted from the beginning is to get the case before a jury,” Bagley said of Haight’s decision. “This is a good milestone along the way to that path.”

Haight’s decision on the motion was accompanied by an extensive discussion of the merits of the University’s motion. Though he did not entirely reject Yale’s argument, he denied the bulk of the claims in the motion.

Haight also dismissed Bagley’s claim of gender discrimination against Rae, Snyder and Metrick under Connecticut’s Fair Employment Practices Act. Haight dismissed Bagley’s claim of age discrimination under the same act and against the same three defendants. However, he left the counts against the University in place.

In addition, Haight dismissed Bagley’s count claiming that Yale committed a “breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing,” as well as a final count against Rae for defamation.

“[The count] will be dismissed for [Bagley’s] failure to state a defamation claim against Rae with the requisite specificity,” Haight’s decision said.

Still, the decision stated that Bagley has until Sept. 26 of this year to replead the defamation count against Rae. Snyder and Rae declined to comment, while Metrick did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

“We are pleased that Judge Haight dismissed four counts of the complaint,” Conroy said. “We will defend the remaining claims at trial.”

According to Matthew Shaltz, an attorney at Schwartz and Perry L.L.P. who specializes in employment law, while a motion to dismiss is a typical response from defendants in such cases, courts rarely grant them. Dismissal only happens, he said, when it is blatantly clear that the plaintiff is making an unfair or unfounded claim.

Schaltz also said gender discrimination suits are generally among the most complex and drawn-out.

“Gender discrimination cases are unique because there is never any direct evidence — a smoking gun,” he said. “It’s all based on circumstantial evidence.”

Schaltz said that the most complex phase of the lawsuit is forthcoming, when both sides will engage in a process of discovery before an eventual trial — but that 95 percent of similar cases end in settlement outside of court.

Still, the University has expressed unwillingness to settle with Bagley.

“We’re defending the suit,” Conroy said “We don’t have anything to add to that.”

Bagley expressed uncertainty about whether or not she would consider settling with the University outside of court.

“At this point, I don’t know,” Bagley said “But I really do think that this has dragged on for more than two years now, and I think that the truth needs to be heard.”

Although Haight’s decision moves the case closer to trial, Bagley and Yale are unlikely to appear before a jury for some time. According to Bagley, the University has requested additional time to respond to her discovery requests for documents related to her employment.

For the time being, Bagley is still teaching at SOM. She taught three courses this summer and is offering a course called Legal Aspects of Entrepreneurship, which will be open to MBA students, undergraduates and other graduate students this fall.

But Bagley said she still faces obstacles to her teaching at the school.

“I was disheartened when Metrick insisted I reduce my [fall] course from a full semester course to a half semester course,” she said.

Her term on the Yale faculty, which has been extended because of the circumstances of her suit, expires on Dec. 31.

  • terryhughes

    Judge Haight’s full decision is available here: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCOURTS-ctd-3_13-cv-01890/pdf/USCOURTS-ctd-3_13-cv-01890-0.pdf

    I have not seen the pleadings and briefs, but if I were Bagley I wouldn’t get my hope up after reading that opinion. Judge Haight reviews the portions of Bagley’s complaint that support her discrimination claims, which of course turn critically on the issue of the intent of the university officers and faculty involved. What is most striking about the judge’s review is the complete absence of evidence or alleged comments supporting Bagley’s insistence that the moves made against her were in any case motivated by age or gender. The opinion includes no citations to comments like “well, professor Bagley, a male professor might have taken this kind of job more seriously” or “I think we need someone with more youth and energy to teach that class, Professor Bagley.” Nor is there any description of what supposedly constituted a hostile work environment, other than assertions that some of her colleagues and superiors didn’t care for her product. Disagreement with one’s colleagues and superiors is not evidence of age or gender discrimination.

    Yes, Bagley will be able to conduct discovery, and in theory there could be evidence of discriminatory intent in the form of university records or deposition testimony to come. But if Bagley herself can’t say in her own pleadings that she heard expressions of age or gender discrimination, or at least cite to statistical evidence of such discrimination as a matter of policy, how likely is it that the university’s written records or the testimony of her adversaries will do her work for her?

    Discovery has not been completed as far as I know. And the trial has not even begun. But from what’s in that opinion, I’d say Professor Bagley would be best off cutting her losses and making as graceful an exit as possible.

    As an aside, is there some reason why Yale does not include provisions in its employment contracts requiring confidential arbitration of employment related claims like this one? Why is all this dirty linen being aired in public at all?

    • Liz Mao

      A few points–the case is public because Yale did not honor its contract with Professor Bagley. Secondly, in a Motion to Dismiss, the judge does not review evidence–he assumes for the purposes of the motion the facts as alleged in the complaint. Yale brought the motion and the judge failed to throw out the most serious claims. And finally, there is already a great deal of evidence supporting Professor Bagley’s claims incuding all the evidence submitted to the Harte committee, which found the review process applied to Professor Bagley as unfair and the environment at SOM “chilly” for women.

      Does no one find it ironic that Professor Bagley was the principal author of Yale’s new policy against sexual harassment of women? Professor Bagley is an outstanding lawyer in her own right. This case has been brought with great expense and great care. It is hard for many people to really believe that discrimination on the basis of gender and age could happen at so noble an institution as Yale, but the facts in this case will be shown, in my opinion, to be classic examples of the most base kind of mean behavior.

      • terryhughes

        A properly drafted and enforceable confidential arbitration clause in a contract is not voided by the mere claim by a party that the other party “did not honor its contract.” The whole point of such a clause is to keep the process of determination of whether the contract was honored private. Moreover, the opinion neither references nor makes any finding that anyone “did not honor its contract,” including Yale. That makes sense since the case is still in the pleadings stage. In sum, your response on this question does not seem on point.

        If you have convincing grounds to support your assertion that “the facts in this case will be shown, in my opinion, to be classic examples of the most base kind of mean behavior,” you have not adduced them here. Unless Prof Bagley’s complaint is very badly drafted indeed, and you claim it is not badly drafted, it includes as allegations at least summaries and key details of whatever she has that supports her claims of age and gender discrimination. But Judge Haight’s review of her allegations discloses nothing of that nature, as I pointed out. The chances that discovery will disclose much additional evidence of discriminatory intent is slender indeed. Does one really expect to find “smoking gun” memos or emails or Perry Mason style confessions in depositions? Not likely. The Harte “chilly” finding is far from a “hostile work environment” defined by federal or state law. Nor does an “unfair” process imply a process motivated by age or gender discrimination. Nothing you suggest seems very promising.

        No, Prof Bagley should not get her hopes up on the basis of this opinion or what is likely to come. And there is a very big downside for her here: Employers are reluctant to hire anyone who has acrimoniously and publicly sued a former employer. Prof Bagley is not making her future any easier by proceeding with this action. It would be much to her advantage if this case were kept entirely confidential, regardless of the merits of her claims.

  • concerned

    It’s shocking that Bagley is still a gender pioneer on the SOM faculty, with no senior colleagues. I believe her case comes to court under equal opportunity laws, which the public is interested in reviewing, even though Yale is a private school.