Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer
Regular readers know that I was fired at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), after 19 years on the job, for alleged misuse of my work computer. In fact, as we've already shown here at Legal Schnauzer, I was fired because I write a progressive blog, one that has focused heavily on corruption in the Bush-era prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman.
Age and gender discrimination, and a number of other issues, are present in my case. But I've presented tape-recorded evidence here, and in federal court, that proves without a doubt that I was targeted at UAB primarily because of the Siegelman-related content on this blog.
It turns out I'm not the only UAB employee who has been canned over dubious allegations regarding use of workplace computers. Much the same thing happened to Rabin and Prabin Pant, who had been systems analysts at UAB for almost four years when they were fired in February 2008. Interestingly, their termination came roughly three months before my firing in May 2008.
The Pants were born in Nepal and are of Indian descent. They filed a lawsuit on April 23, 2010, in U.S. District Court in Birmingham, alleging race and national-origin discrimination against the University of Alabama Board of Trustees (the official entity that oversees UAB) and Melissa Kelly, director of Health System Information Services at UAB.
The Pants' nationality and their choice of an attorney add an interesting twist to the story. We have reported about the case of Dr. Seema Gupta, a former medical trainee from India who was subjected to gross discrimination at the UAB family-medicine residency program in Huntsville. In fact, UAB is developing quite a history of hypocrisy and discrimination toward individuals from India and South Asia:
Birmingham attorney John Saxon, the same lawyer who handled the Gupta case, is representing the Pants. The Gupta case did not have a positive or lawful outcome, and here is how we reported it in an earlier post:
I covered the Seema Gupta trial in Birmingham and came away realizing that international workers and trainees can not only be exploited in the workplace; they can be treated unfairly in U.S. courts.
Seema Gupta, represented by Birmingham attorney John Saxon, prevailed on her claim of religious discrimination. But an Alabama jury, contrary to the overwhelming evidence presented at trial, found against her on claims of national-origin discrimination and constructive discharge--and awarded a paltry sum in monetary damages that probably did not even cover Dr. Gupta's travel expenses to attend the trial.
While UAB was found to have discriminated, the overall outcome of the Seema Gupta trial raises serious questions about the fundamental fairness of the U.S. federal court system.
Court records indicate that Saxon made no effort to appeal a jury verdict that clearly was at odds with the facts and the law in the Gupta case. We can only hope the Pants have a better outcome because it appears they were treated shamefully on the job--something quite a few people are experiencing at UAB.
I can make this prediction without hesitation: UAB, the federal-court system, and the Birmingham legal establishment (perhaps including Saxon) will put up a wall to ensure that the Pants never learn the real reasons they were cheated out of their jobs.
My termination undoubtedly was triggered by political forces external to the UAB campus who were uncomfortable about the content of my blog--which UAB's own "investigation" showed never was written on work time or with work equipment. (After learning this, UAB made vague allegations that I was "researching" my blog at work, although evidence in my federal lawsuit shows that wasn't true either.) My guess is that the Pants' termination also was driven by some external political force, but UAB will do its darnedest to make sure the Pants never learn who that was. And based on the Gupta case, I doubt that John Saxon will make a serious effort to find out.
UAB recruited the Pants from Omaha, Nebraska, because of their specialized knowledge in Cerner software systems. Throughout their employment, they received good to excellent performance reviews and merit-based pay raises--just as I had throughout my 19 years at UAB.