Carpenter v. Board of Regents, University of Wisconsin System

728 F.2d 911 (1984)

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Carpenter v. Board of Regents, University of Wisconsin System

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
728 F.2d 911 (1984)

Facts

Joseph Carpenter (plaintiff) was an assistant professor on a tenure track in the Department of African American Studies (AAS) at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee (UW) (defendant). AAS was a newly established department that, aside from offering courses, aimed to provide support services for African American students and serve as a cultural center in the community. At UW, faculty received a tenure decision before year seven of teaching but applied for tenure halfway through the fifth year. Faculty were terminated if they failed to achieve tenure. One of UW’s criteria for tenure decisions was scholarly publication. Carpenter, who served as chairman of AAS during his fifth year, had many obligations outside of regular teaching, including administrative work, curriculum development, and counseling services. According to Carpenter, this took away from his time for research and publishing, and it imposed burdens on him that teachers in other well-established, predominately White, academic departments did not have. Carpenter made a request to defer his tenure application, which was denied. AAS recommended Carpenter for tenure, but Carpenter failed to receive a recommendation from the dean and was denied tenure. The main reason for Carpenter’s denial of tenure was lack of publication. Carpenter filed suit, alleging a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, arguing that he was a victim of disparate treatment and that UW’s system had a disparate impact on African Americans. A district court ruled against Carpenter under both theories. On appeal, Carpenter pursued his disparate-impact argument, challenging the district court’s finding that he failed to prove that UW’s seven-year rule and tenure criteria made it more difficult for him and other African American faculty to attain tenure.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

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