A UCLA professor was suspended for not providing special treatment to black students in the light of George Floyd’s death. The professor is suing the University of California Los Angeles for more than $19 million over the well-publicized incident that garnered national notoriety.
Gordon Klein – a lecturer of accounting at the Anderson School of Management – made headlines in June 2020 when he refused to give preferential treatment to black students.
“The student requested a no-harm and shortened final exam, and extended deadlines for final assignments and projects in consideration of black students’ well-being in light of nationwide protests against police brutality,” the Daily Bruin reported.
Klein responded by writing:
Thanks for your suggestion in your email below that I give black students special treatment, given the tragedy in Minnesota. Do you know the names of the classmates that are black? How can I identify them since we’ve been having online classes only? Are there any students that may be of mixed parentage, such as half black-half Asian? What do you suggest I do with respect to them? A full concession or just half?
Klein asked the student if “a white student” from Minneapolis “might be possibly even more devastated” by the death of George Floyd.
Klein then quoted Martin Luther King Jr., and asked, “Remember that MLK famously said that people should not be evaluated based on the ‘color of their skin.’ Do you think that your request would run afoul of MLK’s admonition?”
The same day as Klein wrote the email, a Change.org petition was launched, and it demanded Klein be “terminated for his extremely insensitive, dismissive, and woefully racist response to his students’ request for empathy and compassion during a time of civil unrest.”
The petition — with more than 21,000 signatures — read, “His behavior is not reflective of the equity, respect, and justice that UCLA stands for as an institution.”
Two days later, Anderson School Dean Antonio Bernardo announced that Klein was suspended and an investigation was initiated into the “troubling conduct.”
“Providing a safe, respectful and equitable environment in which students can effectively learn is fundamental to UCLA’s mission,” Bernardo declared. “We share common principles across the university of integrity, excellence, accountability, respect, and service. Conduct that demonstrates a disregard for our core principles, including an abuse of power, is not acceptable.”
“I deeply regret the increased pain and anger that our community has experienced at this very difficult time,” Bernardo added. “We must and will hold each other to higher standards.”
Klein derives significant income from his expert witness practice.
The College Fix reported, “He has testified, for example, in several high-profile court cases, including Michael Jackson’s wrongful death, Apple’s acquisition of Dr. Dre’s Beats headphones, and the valuation of General Motors’ assets in bankruptcy.”
Klein’s attorney – Steve Goldberg – told the College Fix this week, “He was one of the top damages experts in the country who was historically bringing in well over $1 million dollars a year and trending upwards when it happened.”
“That practice went to ashes right after he was suspended,” said Goldberg, a member of the Markun, Zusman & Compton law firm.
Klein’s lawsuit is scheduled to go to trial on March 4 at the Santa Monica Courthouse.
Klein, who joined the UCLA Anderson School of Management in 1981, first filed a lawsuit against the school in September 2021.
UCLA did not respond to repeated requests for comment by The College Fix.
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