Inside Higher Ed
September 24th, 2014
Many adjuncts wonder why colleges that employ them year after year,
giving them good reviews course after course, seem to have no interest
in them when tenure-track jobs open up. Several legal court cases
suggest that bias against adjuncts may be linked to age discrimination.
"Whether this is a definite trend or not, I don’t know, but there’s
been an increase of these cases, and that’s a good thing,” said Maria
Maisto, president of the New Faculty Majority, a national adjunct
advocacy group. “We know anecdotally that is a problem and we hear about
it all the time.”
Last week, the Washington State Supreme Court said that a longtime
adjunct instructor of English at Clark College who accused the
institution of age discrimination in not selecting her for a
tenure-track position had enough of a case for it to proceed to trial.
That court’s decision overturned several lower courts’ rulings in favor
of Clark, which claimed that Kathryn Scrivener was the lowest-performing
of four faculty-backed candidates interviewed for two open positions.
Both eventually went to candidates under 40, who were selected by the
president and vice president. But Scrivener, who began at the college in
1994 as a part-time adjunct and had been a “temporary” full-time
instructor since 1999, said ageism was at play. She was 55 at the time.