May 5, 2006

ILR Website Moves Close to Trial

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The multi-million dollar lawsuit filed by two former Industrial Law and Labor Relations extension employees against the University continues to move toward a trial.

The complaint, originally filed with the District Court of the Southern District of New York in 2004, alleges that Peggy Leibowitz ’73, former senior extension associate II, was demoted and terminated from a tenured position because of her age and gender.

In a separate case that has now been combined with Leibowitz’s claim, Thomas Germano, former senior extension associate II and director of the ILR extension office in Long Island, also claims that he was harassed into early retirement by the University because of his age.

Cornell had filed a motion to dismiss Leibowitz’s complaint, arguing she failed to state sufficiently a cause of action. The District Court originally granted Cornell’s motion to dismiss, but the Second Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the decision on April 21 as the result of an appeal, allowing the suit to go forward to discovery.

Attorney David Market, who is representing both Leibowitz and Germano along with senior partner Jeffrey Liddle ’71 of the Liddle & Robinson law firm, said he is very encouraged by the Second Circuit’s decision.

Leibowitz had worked in ILR’s Extension office from 1983 until

her termination in July 2002. According to the decision by the Second Circuit, Leibowitz alleges that Cornell has violated the Equal Pay Act since the University paid her wages lower than those paid to male employees even though she performed equal work. She also claims that Cornell breached her contract by not respecting her as a tenured professor, and that Cornell owes her wages for a period when she continued to work for the University after accepting a forced early retirement.

The University’s General Counsel Nelson Roth, as well

as his staff, was unavailable for comment. According to earlier statements, Cornell maintains that there was no contract or official policy supporting Leibowitz’s claim that she held a tenured position, and that Leibowitz had suffered no “adverse employment action.” Cornell did not file a motion to dismiss Germano’s case, which has already reached the discovery stage.

Archived article by Scott Rosenthal
Sun Staff Writer