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Florida professor sues for age discrimination but stays cool

In February, Professor Charles Magee filed an age discrimination lawsuit against a Florida university. In April, he was awarded a patent for a vest designed to keep people cool in Florida’s hot weather.

A professor’s contract is cut back

Since 1996, Dr. Charles Magee had been a tenured professor and founder of the Biological and Agricultural Systems Engineering program at Florida A&M University. His job reviews were favorable, and his work brought FAMU $2 million in grants, according to his lawsuit.

In late summer of 2015, a letter from a dean of the university notified Magee that his 12-month contract was being cut to nine months. His salary was also cut, He was suddenly FAMU’s lowest-paid engineering professor with such a contact.

He alleges the dean explained that the change was partly due to “the need to hire new faculty” and added, “we need young bright faculty who can come in and move our programs forward in keeping up with the 21st century.”

Magee had testified in hazing death lawsuit

Magee’s discrimination lawsuit also cites a violation of his free speech rights as a reason for the suit.

Only two weeks before the dean’s letter, Magee had obeyed a subpoena to testify in a lawsuit against FAMU. The suit involved a marching band member’s death allegedly from a hazing ritual assault, including time in what was known as the “hot seat.”

During the deposition, Magee said his own son had previously endured a similar hazing and that Magee had notified supervising faculty of the band and music programs.

70-year-old professor awarded his seventh patent

In April, Magee made headlines when the U.S. patent office awarded him a patent for a “solar adiabatic cooling apparatus,” which Magee prefers to call a solar evaporative cooling vest.

Designed for use by medically vulnerable people in heat waves, workers in very hot working conditions, players and others involved in sporting events, and anyone who such a might keep cool, offer comfort, or save from fatal heat stress.

The cooling vest is Magee’s seventh patent (another five are pending), and an indication FAMU can be proud of its “bright faculty who can come in and move our programs forward in keeping up with the 21st century.”

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