(CN) – Ohio University improperly suspended a faculty member after a plagiarism scandal by failing to give him a chance to clear his name publically, the 6th Circuit ruled.
Jay Gunasekera was a professor of mechanical engineering who supervised the thesis work of graduate students.
He was one of three faculty members whom the university publically implicated in an investigation of “rampant and flagrant plagiarism in theses.” His graduate faculty status was suspended for three years.
The professor sued in Federal Court for the deprivation of his property and liberty interests in his job, and for lack of due process.
The district court dismissed the case, ruling that Gunasekera did not have property interest and that university officials are entitled to qualified immunity. Judge Karen Nelson Moore of the Cincinnati-based federal appeals court reversed the decision.
“Because Gunasekera asserts that he was never given any opportunity to be heard either before or after he was deprived of his property interest in his Graduate Faculty status,” Moore wrote, “the district court’s dismissal of Gunasekera’s property interest claim must be reversed.”
Moore also determined that Gunasekera is entitled to a public hearing “to address the stigma the university inflicted on him.”