INVER GROVE HEIGHTS, Minn. — A popular sociology teacher was banned from a Twin Cities community college for allegedly pressuring a student to hand out pens with his union’s label, according to court records.

Dave Berger, 53, was put on “paid investigatory leave” at Inver Hills Community College in February. Berger was banned from the campus in Inver Grove Heights for more than three months while the school investigated an undisclosed complaint against him.

In a recent court filing, Berger disclosed that the investigation ended in August with a decision to suspend him for five days without pay, the Star Tribune ( ) reported.

Berger was cited for “inappropriate and unprofessional conduct” for allegedly pressuring a student to distribute pens with the logo of the faculty union, according to the disciplinary letter. Berger also was accused of being disrespectful to a staff member by refusing to talk to her and “lying to the investigator” about his actions.

Berger denies the allegations and has called the investigation “frivolous.” In his rebuttal, Berger contends the student approached him for the union pens, not the other way around.

Berger, who has taught at Inver Hills since 1991, was a leader of a faculty no-confidence vote against the college’s president, Tim Wynes. Berger, who is on sabbatical this year, is suing the college over the handling of his case, saying that school officials relied on “coerced and false” testimony in reaching their conclusions against him.

College officials declined to comment, citing the ongoing lawsuit. Wynes has denied there was any retaliation.

Inver Hills faculty union president David Riggs called Berger’s punishment part of “a pattern of retaliation and harassment” of faculty members who criticize the administration.

“I would like to say that it’s unbelievable, but … unfortunately, it’s like par for the course,” Riggs said.

The union has since filed a grievance over the disciplinary action.

Information from: Star Tribune,

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