Penn State

Discrimination suit filed by terminated professor dismissed against Penn State

A federal judge has granted Penn State’s summary judgment motion and dismissed a religious and national origin discrimination suit filed five years ago by a terminated professor at the Wilkes-Barre campus.

U.S. Middle District Judge Matthew W. Brann on Thursday found the evidence does not support the claims of Mohamad Nouri and added Penn State has provided legitimate non-discriminatory reasons for terminating him.

Nouri, a native of Iran and a Muslim, was fired April 15, 2004, for academic misconduct. The university cited five acts of plagiarism of research documents.

He was hired by Penn State in 1988 as an associate professor of mathematics, granted tenure in 1991 and promoted to full professor.

Court documents note between 1975 and 1991, Nouri published 16 papers in professional, peer-reviewed journals of mathematics but only one since 1991.

Nouri began filing discrimination complaints against the university in 1995 beginning with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.

He filed a federal rights suit against Penn State in 1997 in which a jury found for Nouri on his retaliation clams and against him on those alleging discrimination.

Nouri filed a second suit in 2001 claiming he was denied appropriate salary increases on the basis of his age, national origin and religion.

A jury found for the university on all claims. Research documents produced in relation to that case led to the plagiarism allegations.

Penn State President Eric Barron, then dean of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, was a member of a committee that, after evaluating the allegations, recommended a formal investigation.

That investigation concluded Nouri was “guilty of willful scientific misconduct.” He claimed documents that listed him as the sole author had been tampered with but Brann noted he had no suggestion who might have altered them.

The judge’s opinion also rejected Nouri’s claims he was treated less favorably than others similarly situated and he endured a hostile work environment.

In support of his hostile work claim Nouri pointed out a security officer notified him in front of students he was terminated and had to leave the campus.