Judge dismisses age discrimination case against Stanford University

By Amanda Thomas | Apr 11, 2018

SAN JOSE – A federal judge has dismissed an age discrimination lawsuit against Stanford University because the plaintiff failed to state "a plausible claim."

Judge Edward J. Davila of the U.S. District Court for Northern California, San Jose Division dismissed the suit March 19 after reviewing an amended complaint against the university's physics department. 

"Since plaintiff failed to remedy the claim after being advised of the deficiency in the prior screening order, the court finds that permitting further amendment would be futile at this point," Davila said in his opinion. 

The amended complaint came after Davila found plaintiff Liqiang Wei didn't address the details of the legal process correctly to support the case. In a Feb. 22 ruling, he noted that Wei hadn't "exhausted administrative remedies" for claims under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Specifically, he said Wei should have filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) prior to filing any civil action.

In regard to separate claim involving national origin and race discrimination, Davila found there simply wasn't enough evidence of intentional discrimination to make the complaint stick. According to the court, the previous claim didn't actually allege Stanford took action against Wei, leaving the charge somewhat toothless. 

Davila also pointed out that a complaint, to be more actionable, should name department heads or other leaders of the department or university in question. While Wei amended the complaint to include physics department chair Dr. Peter Michelson, the court found it still didn't state a plausible claim, saying "the plaintiff must prove intentional or purposeful discrimination." Davila previously noted Wei's initial complaint didn't "plausibly state that Stanford acted against him by rejecting his employment application."

The same is true for the amended complaint. 

"Instead of describing adverse conduct on Stanford's part, plaintiff maintains that Stanford responded to his application by accepting it for consideration rather than rejecting it, even though the position for which plaintiff applied is at the 'junior level,'" David said in his opinion.

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Stanford University U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose Division

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