PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Linfield University has agreed to pay $1 million to a former English professor who accused the private McMinnville school of unlawfully firing him for whistleblowing.
In July 2021, Dr. Daniel Pollack-Pelzner filed a lawsuit claiming that the university unlawfully terminated him for calling attention to reports made by students and faculty alleging university trustees and the president of sexual harassment.
Linfield fired Pollack-Pelzner on April 27 after he allegedly spread false statements about the university, employees and the trustees, Pamplin Media Group first reported.
Following an investigation into Pollack-Pelzner’s termination, the American Association of University Professors found Linfield had violated generally-accepted principles of academic freedom. This finding led AAUP to add Linfield University to its list of censured administrations.
According to the AAUP, Pollack-Pelzner was “fulfilling his responsibilities as the faculty’s elected representative to the board of trustees, and his speech and conduct were protected by principles of academic freedom.”
The lawsuit claimed Pollack-Pelzner “engaged in legally protected activity when he took Linfield trustees and administrators to task for not adequately addressing campus safety issues.”
Multiple Linfield staff members stepped down after Pollack-Pelzner was fired.
“Everyone should be able to work and study without fear of discrimination or harassment, and everyone should be able to report their safety concerns without fear of retaliation,” said Pollack Pelzner. “I’m grateful for the many students, alumni, and colleagues who joined me in demanding change and refused to be silenced when Linfield failed to uphold these essential principles.”
Linfield University does not admit to wrongdoing, but said in part, “the university’s insurers recommended the agreement.”
“The university has made its position clear on the merits of the litigation through filings and submissions to the court,” Linfield University added. “However, defending against litigation, even when confident in the legal outcome, diverts time and energy from the mission of the institution. We felt it preferable to resolve this situation and move on.”
Pollack-Pelzner has since joined Portland State University as a visiting scholar and a scholar-in-residence at the Portland Shakespeare Project.