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Legal Writing Professor Asserts Gender Discrimination Against Wake Forest

Barbara Lentz taught legal writing at Wake Forest University School of Law for approximately 18 years. When her contract was not renewed in 2018, Lentz alleged that the school made its decision based on her age, gender, and medical condition.
In her many years at the school, she taught 15 different courses, including doctrinal classes such as Contracts. She has alleged that she was paid less for her teaching hours. The law school claimed that it was because she taught legal writing but when she added doctrinal classes, Lentz alleged that she was still paid less than her cohorts. She alleged that male professors were paid more. Although Lentz received a 2018 Innovation in Teaching Award, she was brushed off when she asked to have her pay differential explained. In her complaint, Lentz pointed to a negative performance note that she received and believed reflected gender bias. She stated that she never received any documents about her performance or any reviews but was told from a post-it note that her “performance was somehow subpar because [Lentz] had not smiled on one occasion in the hallway.” Lentz further asserted that she was told she would receive a five-year employment contract but that it never materialized.
In 2018, Lentz was diagnosed with hypertension and other medical issues. She had to miss orientation during that first week of school. She has claimed that missing work for a medical condition was the trigger for terminating her. She has also alleged that the school had a pattern of replacing older employees with younger workers during the last year of her employment.
According to a Columbia Journal article from 2015, over 70% of legal writing instructors are women and are paid less than instructors for doctrinal courses. At the time of that report, almost 70% of tenured professors at law schools were men. Tenure track offers instructors status and job security.