Penn State

Judge dismisses former Penn State prof’s sex discrimination suit

The federal lawsuit that accused Penn State of treating sexual harassment of females differently than that of males is over.

The university was the last remaining defendant in the suit brought by Jodi La Coe, a former architecture professor, in U.S. Middle District Court.

Judge Matthew W. Brann on Wednesday granted her motion to dismiss the university. She previously removed Mehrdad Hadighi, chair of integrative design in the College of Architecture.

Brann last March removed the third defendant, James Kalsbeek, La Croe’s co-worker.

The Kalsbeek order stated La Coe’s claims “suffer from significant plausibility shortcomings and various procedural holes.”

The judge characterized La Coe’s suit of attempting “to stretch to their breaking points the clear bounds of certain sex discrimination laws on which she relied.”

The thrust of La Coe’s suit was the decision not to grant her tenure.

She claimed that was due to a discriminatory animus against women that pervaded the architecture department rather than any professional shortcomings on her part.

In response to the suit, Penn State stated La Coe was denied tenure because her teaching and research were not exceptional. She disputed that.

She had joined the faculty in 2003 as an instructor and later became a tenure-track assistant professor. She lost her job in 2014 when she was not granted tenure.

She claimed in her complaint that the architecture department has had a dearth of tenured female professors.