A woman who graduated from Lehigh University in Pennsylvania is suing the college because she received a C+ in a class, claiming that the grade ruined her career.
Megan Thode, 27, was going to school for free because her father is a professor at the university. She was studying to be a professional counselor and was on her way to receive her masters when a teacher gave her the grade.
She is alleging breach of contract and sexual discrimination and is seeking $1.3 million in damages.
She was in her final year of a master’s program in counseling and human services in 2009, a program offered through the College of Education.
The course required her to make a B to finish the degree, but she received a C+ when professor Amanda Carr gave Thode a zero for classroom participation.
Thode tried several times to contest the low grade.
Thode’s lawyer said the professor was biased against the student because she was a proponent of gay and lesbian rights.
The university’s attorney said the claim is false, as Carr has a close family member who is a lesbian and has counseled for LGBT clients.
After receiving the grade, Thode transferred to pursue a master’s degree in human development. Now she is working as a drug and alcohol counselor.
Though she is satisfied with her career, she is seeking damages for the money she would have earned if she had completed her first degree and had the opportunity to be a state-certified counselor.
She believes the professor and director of the program conspired against her to prevent her from moving forward with her degree because she complained about an internship requirement.
Trial began on Monday in Northampton County.
Richard J. Orloski, her lawyer, said she deserved a higher grade.
“She’s literally lost a career,” he said.
Meanwhile, attorneys for the school think the suit is outrageous.
“I think if your honor changed the grade, you’d be the first court in the history of jurisprudence to change an academic grade,” Lehigh University attorney Neil Hamburg said. “She has to get through the program. She has to meet the academic requirements.”
Her father, Stephen Thode, teaches finance courses at the university.