Yet more evidence that institutions of higher education blatantly engage in age discrimination in hiring.
George Mazza, 62, an attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), has filed a federal lawsuit against Georgetown University alleging he applied for and was denied admission to a university doctoral program in theology studies in the Fall of 2017 because of his age.
He alleges a member of the admissions committee “indicated the preeminent selection criterion was whether the admissions candidate would likely find on graduation a full-time tenure track faculty position at a major university.”
Mazza states a faculty member who encouraged him to apply for admission to the program, Dr. Peter C. Phan, told him the admissions committee could not justify offering him a position because no major university would consider hiring him because of his age at the time of graduation (estimated to be 68).
The on-line application for the theology program included specific questions about the applicant’s age, the date of the applicant’s undergraduate degree, and the number of years of the candidate’s relevant work or professional experience.
Georgetown, in its response to the complaint, asserts that Mazza “was not among the most qualified candidates for admission to the program.”
Mazza holds several advanced degrees and serves in a senior position in the DOJ, supervising a team of experienced attorneys who investigate complex civil rights cases and representing the DOJ on a White House interagency initiative on religion issues.
Georgetown was a defendant in an earlier notorious case of age discrimination in hiring filed by the late Nicholas Speeth, a former state Attorney General in North Dakota who sought a full-time law teaching position in 2010. Spaeth applied for vacancies at 172 law schools through the American Association of Law Schools but was invited to only two interviews and did not receive any job offers.
Spaeth, then 60, was a magna cum laude graduate of Stanford Law School, a Rhodes Scholar, former U.S. Supreme Court Clerk and general counsel for three publicly held companies with billions in assets – including H & R Block.
Georgetown hired a 35-year-old applicant who had worked for only two years as a “tax associate” at a law firm.
U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal-Huevell of the D.C. circuit dismissed Spaeth’s case on a pre-trial motion for summary judgment, disregarding seemingly overwhelming evidence of age discrimination. She was required to interpret all evidence in Spaeth’s favor but seemed to do the opposite. For example, she said the work “young” in an internal Georgetown memorandum that discussed the need to hire “promising young scholars” did not refer to age but to “new.” Judge Segal-Huevell took semi-retired or senior status on June 3, 2014.
Mazza alleges Georgetown violated the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, which makes it unlawful for a program receiving federal financial assistance to discriminate on the basis of age. and the District of Columbia Human Rights Act of 1977.
The lawsuit, Mazza v. Georgetown University, was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on February 12, 2018.