Jéaux Rinedahl has claimed that he was denied a full-time post at Seattle Pacific University (SPU) because he is gay. (Image from HKM attorneys in Seattle)
A gay professor has claimed that he was denied a full-time teaching job at a Christian university because he is “not heterosexual”.
Jéaux Rinedahl started working as an adjunct professor in the school of health services at Seattle Pacific University (SPU) in July 2019, but he was later denied the opportunity to join on a full-time basis because of his sexuality, his attorneys wrote in a letter sent to Dan Martin, president of the university, on Monday (11 January).
Rinedahl was an “excellent instructor who was loved by his students and respected by his peers”, his legal representatives said.
They added that Rinedahl, who is a devout Christian, loved teaching at the institution and had a “deep and profound respect” for the university’s mission and values.
Despite this, he was denied the chance to join the university on a full-time basis due to his sexual orientation, HKM Employment Attorneys in Seattle alleged.
The letter reads: “Despite professor Rinedahl’s educational background and his distinguished 40-year nursing career, and despite hiring professor Rinedahl to teach in an adjunct capacity, SPU rejected professor Rinedahl’s application for a full-time assistant/associate professor of nursing position because professor Rinedahl is gay.”
Attorneys working on Rinedahl’s behalf said he was “repeatedly encouraged” to continue teaching at the university on a part-time, adjunct basis – but the university refused to consider him for a full-time post.
“Professor Rinedahl was devastated by this decision,” the letter reads.
Jéaux Rinedahl allegedly told he didn’t ‘qualify’ because he is gay.
Rinedahl’s legal representatives said the university will find itself on “the wrong side of history” if it does not employ him as a full-time professor.
“We believe that SPU’s discriminatory hiring practices and policies that seek to exclude qualified professionals from permanent, full-time teaching positions on the basis of sexual orientation are contrary to the core values and beliefs of the community within which SPU operates, as well as the majority of SPU’s own students, professors, and administrative professionals,” his legal team wrote.
“We also believe that SPU’s refusal to hire professor Rinedahl for a permanent teaching position in the nursing program because he is gay violates state and federal anti-discrimination laws.”
"She didn’t reference any policy or anything, I was just told that I didn’t qualify because I was not heterosexual."
His attorneys closed out their letter by calling on the university to hire Rinedahl on a full-time basis in the nursing program.
The law firm has also launched a petition calling on the university to bring Rinedahl on board permanently. The petition has so far received more than 1,200 signatures.
Jéaux Rinedahl said the assistant dean of the school of health sciences notified him by telephone that his application was not being taken any further, according to student newspaper The Falcon.
“She sort’ve delineated a little bit, that to be a full-time faculty you have to sign an agreement that you are a heterosexual, there was an allusion to that,” he said.
“She didn’t reference any policy or anything, I was just told that I didn’t qualify because I was not heterosexual.”
Seattle Pacific University said it is currently reviewing the lawsuit and declined to comment on the claims.