Jury rules against Ole Miss in age bias suit
By Philip Moulden
OXFORD - A federal court jury Thursday found the University of Mississippi guilty of age discrimination in its failure to appoint a 54-year-old university employee to the job of legal writing specialist and acting assistant law professor.
Linda Scott, a reference librarian in the Ole Miss Law Library, filed suit in U.S. District Court after her 1993 application for the legal writing job was turned down. She charged the university discriminated against her in favor of a younger applicant in violation of the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act.
The jury deliberated three and a half hours Thursday following a three-day trial before U.S. Magistrate Jerry Davis.
The jury, however, ruled the university did not retaliate against Scott for filing her lawsuit when it removed her from some duties and passed over her application for the same job when it opened again two years later.
Tupelo attorney Jim Waide, one of the lawyers for Scott, said Davis will decide damages to be awarded at a later date.
"They will be very little," he predicted of any award, noting there was not a large pay discrepancy between the position Scott wanted and the job she held.
But he said a motion will be filed asking the court to order the university to give her the writing specialist position, which was her primary goal.
Scott contended she was better qualified for the job than any of the other candidates, citing her law degree, a master's degree in library science, and a doctorate in English.
University officials denied that age played a role in Scott's rejection for the job. Two members of the 1993 selection committee that rejected Scott testified they were impressed by the prevailing candidate's experience, particularly her service as a federal law clerk.