A professor who sued UCLA after he was suspended in the wake of the George Floyd-Black Lives Matter riots after refusing a request to grade black students leniently will soon get his day in court.

UCLA accounting lecturer Gordon Klein is demanding well over $19 million in damages in a lawsuit scheduled to go to trial March 4 in a Santa Monica courthouse.

The two sides have engaged in legal wrangling since September 2021, when Klein first filed suit — including a failed attempt by UCLA’s lawyers to get the case tossed by summary judgment.

The causes of action to be hashed out next month are breach of contract, retaliation, false light, and negligent interference with prospective earnings.

Klein’s attorney, Steve Goldberg, told The College Fix in a telephone interview this week the lion’s share of damages are based on the estimated loss of Klein’s expert witness practice income.

“That practice went to ashes right after he was suspended,” said Goldberg with the law firm
Markun, Zusman & Compton.

UCLA’s media relations division did not provide a comment on the lawsuit despite repeated requests this week.

Klein, who joined the UCLA Anderson School of Management in 1981, continues to teach as a full-time lecturer there. But his lawsuit alleges he made most of his money as a litigation expert.

He has testified, for example, in several high-profile court cases, including Michael Jackson’s wrongful death, Apple’s acquisition of Dr. Dre’s Beats headphones, and the valuation of General Motors’ assets in bankruptcy.

“He was one of the top damages experts in the country who was historically bringing in well over $1 million dollars a year and trending upwards when it happened,” Goldberg said.

Klein’s lawsuit alleges the controversy and bad press that surrounded him in June 2020 made him untouchable as a litigation expert.

The crux of the controversy took place following Floyd’s death, when Klein received a request asking that he provide academic leniency for his black students enduring emotional duress.

It was a relatively common request at the time among college students at several universities as the nation was gripped with racial tension and rioting.

Klein responded June 2, 2020, by asking how he was supposed to identify black students in the online class; whether he should also go easy on white students from Minneapolis; how much leeway to show half-black students; and how the student feels about Martin Luther King Jr.’s admonition to not evaluate people based on “the color of their skin.”

A screenshot of Klein’s response was distributed widely and decried by students in messages and on social media.

In response, Anderson School Dean Antonio Bernardo wrote in a June 4, 2020, memo to the campus community that Klein was suspended and an investigation was underway.

While not naming Klein specifically, Bernardo’s memo referred to the high-profile incident as “troubling conduct by one of our lecturers.”

“Conduct that demonstrates a disregard for our core principles, including an abuse of
power, is not acceptable,” he added. “…I deeply regret the increased pain and anger that our community has experienced at this very difficult time. We must and will hold each other to higher standards….”

From The College Fix