A Northampton County judge has ruled against a Nazareth woman suing Lehigh University for $1.3 million because, she claims, a poor grade in one class diminished her lifetime earning potential.
The "plaintiff failed to establish that the university based the awarded grade of C+ on anything other than purely academic reasons," the judge said in his ruling Thursday, according to a WFMZ report.
A trial on the civil lawsuit brought by 27-year-old Megan Thode began on Monday in front of Northampton County Judge Emil Giordano, who on Wednesday chastised both sides for being unable to reach an out-of-court settlement, according to The Morning Call.
Thode claimed sexual discrimination in the case. Lehigh University countered that Thode behaved unprofessionally—including swearing in class—and hadn’t earned the right to move on in the program. Thode took the stand Thursday and denied yelling a swear word at her teacher, The Morning Call reported.
The $1.3 million is the difference between what Thode would have earned with the degree she was seeking as opposed to her current lifetime earning potential, according to her attorney, Richard J. Orloski.
Thode was attending graduate classes in Lehigh’s School of Education tuition-free because her father, Stephen Thode, is a Lehigh finance professor.
The C+ grade given during the fall 2009 semester forced Thode out of the graduate counseling program, ending her dream of becoming a licensed professional counselor. She instead got a master’s degree in human development and works as a drug and alcohol counselor, according to The Morning Call.
Orloski charged that Thode was held back because she complained about having to get a supplemental internship in the middle of the semester and also because she is an outspoken supporter of gay and lesbian marriage rights.
Thode’s student teacher for the class, Amanda Eckhardt, dismissed that claim in testimony, according to The Express-Times. While she believes that marriage should be between a man and a woman, she has a sister who is a lesbian and would be the matron of honor at her wedding if she were asked, the newspaper reported.
However, Eckhardt testified that she gave Thode an unprecedented zero points out of a possible 25 for class participation, which knocked down her final grade by a full letter, The Express-Times reported.