Monday, October 4, 2010

Canadian Human Rights Tribunal: We Can Appoint Law Dean

I've blogged here and here about the University of Windsor law dean search.  The short story is that a failed dean candidate from last year, Emily Carasco, has filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.  She claims that when the dean search committee failed to recommend that she be hired, it was for improper and discriminatory reasons.  She argues that the Tribunal should install her into a five year term as dean of the law school.  (The search committee identified two finalists and passed neither name on to the Faculty Council.)

Now the Tribunal has denied Carasco's request to stop the ongoing dean search  - but with one huge caveat.  In its Interim Decision, the Tribunal held:

"The appointment of a new Dean does not preclude the option of a remedial order instating the applicant to the position of Dean should the applicant succeed in her Application. It is true that the presence of an incumbent may be a factor influencing the Tribunal’s determination of whether this is an appropriate remedy..."

Let's assume that the search committee discriminated against Carasco by failing to propose her name to the Faculty Council.  If the Council had the option of not following the advice of the committee, and assuming that her various opponents might have lobbied for just such a decision, it seems remarkable that the Tribunal would have the capacity to go the full distance and install Carasco as Dean.  I don't know the law of Canada, but I'm guessing that such a decision would be appalling to academics of all stripes.  This is not to say that civil rights values shouldn't, as a normative matter, trump academic independence.  But personally, I'd be a lot more comfortable if a successful complainant got compensated financially.  And if Carasco does get the job via Tribunal fiat...well, I wouldn't want to be that dean.

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