From the Cook County Record:
A federal judge has rejected a Northwestern University professor’s amended claim against the school, ending another chapter in a complex legal battle centered around his relationships with female students. About six months after U.S. District Judge Sara L. Ellis rejected the Title IX discrimination claim of Northwestern philosophy professor Peter Ludlow, she dismissed his amended complaint in an Aug. 28 ruling.
In February 2014, a female undergraduate sued Ludlow in Cook County Circuit Court, accusing him of making unwanted sexual advances following an off-campus event in 2012. That was followed by an additional complaint of nonconsensual sex from a graduate student with whom Ludlow had an otherwise consensual romantic relationship. [Note: that the relationship was ‘otherwise consensual’ has been disputed by the graduate student]
Northwestern brought in an independent investigator to handle that complaint. The investigator concluded that while Ludlow’s conduct with the graduate student was not “unwelcome,” it still constituted sexual harassment under university policy because Ludlow had “unequal power in the relationship.” [Note: the preceding seems to be based on the account of events provided by Ludlow’s complaint against Northwestern, and not the investigator’s report (a reader informs me that the word “unwelcome” does not appear in the investigator’s report).]
Ludlow then sued the school on a claim of gender discrimination. In her initial dismissal, Ellis found Ludlow’s claim was based on alleged discrimination related to his employment, even though he argued otherwise, and as such, failed to allege the necessary requirements. She wrote much the same in her dismissal of his amended complaint, explaining how his claim is, in fact, an employment discrimination complaint preempted by Title VII, leading her to dismiss his Title IX complaint with prejudice.
Referencing Northwestern’s investigation of Ludlow’s conduct, Ellis wrote:
“The investigation’s finding of sexual harassment was based on his status as a professor with ‘unequal power’ over a graduate student with whom he had a relationship,” Ellis wrote, referencing the university’s investigation of Ludlow’s conduct. “Ludlow would not be subject to Northwestern’s sexual harassment policies and procedures but for his job there. These factors point to his claim stemming from his employment.”
Further, even if the Title IX claim was not preempted, Ellis said even Ludlow’s amended complaint, like his original, fails to state a claim for Title IX gender discrimination. He argued not that the school’s harassment procedures are systematically flawed, but that he was intentionally denied “a partial and unbiased investigation” due to “outside pressure from radical women’s groups.”
However, Ellis writes, “Ludlow does not state any allegations that would support the inference that gender bias was a motivating factor in the sexual harassment finding…”