Cornell Univ. professor loses fight for open disciplinary records; court also rejects contract claim

New York’s highest court threw out both an implied contract and an access to records claim filed by a renowned Cornell University professor disciplined for sexual harassment. James Maas, a psychology professor and documentary film maker, was sanctioned by Cornell for repeatedly behaving unprofessionally and inappropriately in his relationship with four students.

Maas denied the sexual harassment allegations and instituted a lawsuit, claiming the university violated a contractual agreement with him by not following its internal procedures for disciplining employees set out in a handbook called the Campus Code. Maas also instituted a proceeding to get access to records on other staff disciplinary actions from the four Cornell statutory colleges that the university receives public money to run.

In November, the New York Court of Appeals, upholding a lower court decision, rejected Maas