UCLA environmental health sciences professor and researcher James Enstrom, who was let go from UCLA after 34 years once he blew the whistle on a researcher’s fake Ph.D. and other issues involving the California Air Resources Board, is now being represented by former FIRE President David French at the American Center for Law & Justice. This important development in the case further demonstrates that UCLA will not succeed in public with the rights violation it has tried to accomplish in private.
FIRE has been fighting for Dr. Enstrom since last August, winning him an eight-month reprieve until March 31, 2011, or until his appeals are resolved. UCLA has been dragging its feet, and nearly a year later, Enstrom is still fighting for his job. (Enstrom’s latest reprieve expires on July 31.)
Enstrom has worked at UCLA as a researcher and professor since 1976, being rehired each year. Since 2004, he has been rehired in UCLA’s Department of Environmental Health Sciences (EHS). Over the years, he and a few of his colleagues have sometimes disagreed strongly about research on environmental health issues-for example, on the extent of the threat to public health posed by certain air pollutants, a topic of Enstrom’s research which has been the subject of intense debate in California.
Enstrom also was a successful whistleblower whose activism led to fellow EHS faculty member John Froines being replaced on a panel for the California Air Resources Board. Several members of the panel had been serving beyond the three-year legal limit on their terms of office, and Enstrom’s whistleblowing provided part of the grounds for a lawsuit on the issue. (After a short time, Froines was reinstated following the proper procedure but still violating the spirit of term limits.)
Enstrom also blew the whistle on a fake Ph.D. being claimed by a CARB researcher, as discussed in this video from Reason.tv:
As a result of all of this, UCLA came up with one pretext after another to get rid of Enstrom, finally letting him go because he didn’t fit the “mission” of his department and because he hadn’t met the department “minimums,” following a review process under which the department faculty couldn’t have been objective even if they had wanted to be.
By the way, if you want to see the retaliation at its most petty, try dialing that phone number with all the 5s (310-825-5555) in one of the layoff letters Enstrom received from his department chair. It goes nowhere.
On April 4, 2011, without the benefit of legal counsel, Enstrom fought for his job in non-binding arbitration hearings. A decision is expected this month.
FIRE continues to fight for Enstrom, and we now have another powerful ally in the American Center for Law & Justice, which is now representing Enstrom. Former FIRE President David French and others are working hard to ensure that Enstrom receives the justice he deserves.