The sale of the University of Puget Sound’s law school entitles law professors to early retirement and severance pay, 11 professors claim in a lawsuit.
Each of the tenured professors is seeking severance pay equaling an average annual salary of $93,000 and early retirement pay up to $162,750, a UPS official said.
None of the professors lost their jobs as a result of the sale and continued teaching at the law school in Tacoma after Seattle University took over from UPS last August. But the lawsuit contends the sale of the school equates to dismissal from their former posts.
“We were terminated by the University of Puget Sound,” said former UPS law professor James Beaver. “When they terminate you, it requires them to pay.”
Beaver, a founding law school professor, said the lawsuit was aimed at making the university honor its contract with its faculty.
The lawsuit, filed last month in Pierce County Superior Court, names UPS, UPS president Susan Resneck Pierce, and UPS financial vice president Ray Bell.
UPS spokesman John Gallagher said the lawsuit is meritless.
“These professors are still employed at the same law school,” said Gallagher, UPS’ vice president for university relations. “They have not been dismissed nor have they retired.”
Gallagher said UPS professors aren’t eligible for early retirement pay if they continue teaching at another school.
“They simply are not entitled to any sort of severance or retirement pay,” he said. “There was no harm done. No harm, no foul.”
But the professors contend other UPS faculty members have taken early retirement and continued teaching elsewhere.
UPS agreed to sell the state’s largest law school to Seattle University for an undisclosed amount in November 1993.
UPS was criticized by some for failing to keep the 22-year-old law school in downtown Tacoma. Seattle University plans to keep the 850-student law school there until 1999 at the latest, when it will be moved to the Seattle University campus on First Hill in Seattle.