Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Former Cleveland State University Employees Lose Age Discrimination Claim

Steven Liss v. Cleveland State University, Case Number: 2013-00139
William Russell v. Cleveland State University, Case Number: 2013-00138

Two former Cleveland State University employees have lost their legal challenge to get their jobs back, after a ruling by the Ohio Court of Claims.

Steven Liss, the former director of the Center for Student Involvement, and William Russell, the coordinator of Greek Affairs, filed complaints against the university after their positions were abolished in September 2012. Liss and Russell each claimed they were discriminated against because of their age, which when they were let go Liss was 50 and Russell was 66. The Court of Claims held a trial on the matter in January.

In the Sept. 17 decisions, the Court of Claims magistrate wrote that neither plaintiff proved his case of age discrimination because the “defendant has offered legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for the reorganization, namely, to offer more services to students and to bring more national fraternities and sororities to campus.”

The magistrate also found Liss and Russell “failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the reorganization and the failure to hire them for newly created positions was a pretext for age discrimination.”

Russell’s claim he was fired in retaliation for time he’d taken off for shoulder surgery, which would be a violation under the Family and Medical Leave Act, was also dismissed in the decision.

The parties have 14 days from the filing date of the decision to file objections. A judge of the Court of Claims will then rule on any objections and may adopt, reject or modify the magistrate’s decision.

The Court of Claims is given original jurisdiction to hear and determine all civil actions filed against the State of Ohio and its agencies.

To access information on other cases visit the Court of Claims website.

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