Denial of tenure in the academic employment context raises complex issues that are not found in typical employment contract claims. Employment decisions involving college and university administrators also present unique challenges.
First Amendment principles are cited for the judiciary’s expressed reluctance to “second guess” decisions that are made by colleges or universities on who will be employed to teach. In addition, a tenure decision is typically made based on the recommendation of multiple parties suggesting that an abundance of process is a substitute for good faith and fair dealing.
Nevertheless, the Connecticut Supreme Court has made it clear in Craine v. Trinity College, 259 Conn. 625 (2002) that academic employment decisions are subject to claims of breach of contract and professors may turn to the courts to enforce reasonable expectations arising from language contained in faculty handbooks.
Furthermore, as with all employment decisions, a denial of tenure that is motivated by factors such as gender, age, race or other protected characteristics will subject the institution to liability.