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The power of PowerPoint, and a gentle letdown

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Hiring,Human Resources

Salvatore Salerno, a sociology instructor at the Hutchinson campus of Ridgewater College, sued for age discrimination after being passed over for a full-time, tenure-track position.

In addition to its education requirements, Ridgewater expressed a preference for candidates familiar with innovative teaching techniques, such as using technology in the classroom.

Salerno survived an initial round of cuts and was asked to give a teaching presentation to the hiring committee. He delivered a lecture from his notes. The job went to a candidate in his early 30s who delivered an interactive, technology-based teaching presentation. Both Salerno and the winning candidate had doctoral degrees.

Salerno, who is in his 50s, offered as evidence of discrimination the fact that the college first told him they had found someone “more qualified” to fill the position, and only later told Salerno his teaching presentation was poor.

The court granted summary judgment, finding that the college’s reasons were not inconsistent, but merely a further elaboration on the same statement. In sparing Salerno the details, the court said, Ridgewater “was acting courteously, not suspiciously.”

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