Sandra F. Sperino

Headshot of Sandra F. Sperino

Sandra F. Sperino

Judge Joseph P. Kinneary Professor of Law, College of Law

412 College of Law Building


Areas of Interest: Civil Procedure, Employment Discrimination, Torts


Professor Sperino teaches in the areas of civil procedure, torts, and employment law. In 2013 and 2017, she received the Goldman Prize for Excellence in Teaching.

Professor Sperino’s scholarship focuses on employment discrimination, and her recent work focuses on the intersection of tort and discrimination law. She is the author of several books: Unequal: How America’s Courts Undermine Discrimination Law (w/ Thomas) (Oxford University Press 2017) and Employment Discrimination: Cases and Materials (w/ Grover & Gonzalez) (CAP 2013), an employment discrimination casebook. In 2017, she joined West’s hornbook Federal Discrimination Law and West’s Federal Discrimination in a Nutshell. Her article, The Tort Label, was selected for the Harvard/Stanford/Yale Faculty Forum. Her recent articles are published in the Michigan Law Review, the University of Illinois Law Review, the George Mason Law Review, and the Notre Dame Law Review.

In 2015, Professor Sperino received the Harold C. Schott Award for Scholarship. She has served as Chair for the AALS Section on Employment Discrimination Law and as a contributing editor to several employment law books published by the American Bar Association.

Prior to joining the UC Law faculty, she served on the faculty at Temple University Beasley School of Law. She also was a visiting professor at the University of Illinois College of Law and the St. Louis University School of Law. Professor Sperino was in private practice as an attorney for the litigation and labor and employment departments at Lewis, Rice & Fingersh in St. Louis. There she co-authored the successful petition for writ of certiorari and the brief argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Sell.

Professor Sperino received her J.D. from the University of Illinois College of Law, where she was editor-in-chief of the University of Illinois Law Review, and a M.S. in Journalism from the University of Illinois. After law school, she clerked for the Hon. Donald J. Stohr of the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri.


BA, Texas Tech University
MS, University of Illinois
JD, University of Illinois


2022 Goldman Prize for Excellence in Teaching
2019 University Excellence Award for Faculty-to-Faculty Research Mentoring
2018 Faculty Excellence Award for Scholarship
2017 Goldman Prize for Excellence in Teaching      
2015 Harold C. Schott Award for Scholarship
2013 Goldman Prize for Excellence in Teaching


Books and Book Chapters

  • McDonnell Douglas: The Most Important Case in Employment Discrimination Law (Bloomberg 2018) (2d ed. 2019).
  • West’s Hornbook, Federal Discrimination Law (2019).
  • Unequal: How America’s Courts Undermine Discrimination Law (w/ Thomas) (Oxford Univ. Press 2017).
  • Federal Discrimination Law in a Nutshell (w/ Player) (West 2017).
  • Rothstein et al., Federal Employment Law, Discrimination Chapter (West 2019) (both practitioner and student treatises).
  • Employment Discrimination: Cases and Materials, Carolina Academic Press (w/ Gonzalez) (2d ed. 2013) (3d ed. 2019).


  • Into the Weeds: Modern Discrimination Law, 95 Notre Dame L. Rev. 1077 (2020).
  • Caught in the Cat’s Paw (forthcoming BYU L. Rev.).
  • Justice Kennedy’s Big New Idea, 96 Boston U. L. Rev. 1789 (2016).
  • Retaliation and the Reasonable Person, 67 Fla. L. Rev. 2031 (2015).
  • Discrimination Law: The New Franken-tort, 65 DePaul L. Rev. 721 (2016) (invited submission for Clifford Symposium).
  • Let’s Pretend Title VII is a Tort, 75 Ohio St. L. Rev. 1107 (2014).
  • The Tort Label, 66 Fla. L. Rev. 1051 (2014).
  • Fakers and Floodgates (w/ Thomas), 10 Stan. J. Civ. Rts. & Civ. Liberties 223 (2014) (invited submission).
  • Discrimination Statutes, the Common Law and Proximate Cause, 2013 U. Ill. L. Rev. 1.
  • Statutory Proximate Cause, 88 Notre Dame L. Rev. 1199 (2013).
  • Revitalizing State Discrimination Law, 20 George Mason L. Rev. 545 (Winter 2013).
  • Rethinking Discrimination Law, 110 Mich. L. Rev. 69 (2011).
  • A Modern Theory of Direct Corporate Liability for Title VII, 61 Ala. L. Rev. 773 (2010).
  • Judicial Preemption of Punitive Damages, 78 U. Cin. L. Rev. 227 (2009).
  • The "Disappearing" Dilemma: Why Agency Principles Should Now Take Center Stage in Retaliation Cases, 57 Kan. L. Rev. 157 (2008).
  • Complying with Export Laws without Importing Discrimination Liability: An Attempt to Integrate Employment Discrimination Law with Deemed Export Requirements, 52 St. Louis University Law Journal 375 (Winter 2007-08).
  • Recreating Diversity in Employment Law by Debunking the Myth of the McDonnell-Douglas Monolith, 44 Houston L. Rev. 349 (2007).
  • The Sky Remains Intact:  Why Allowing Subgroup Evidence is Consistent with the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 90 Marquette L. Rev. 227 (2006).
  • Flying Without A Statutory Basis:  Why McDonnell-Douglas Is Not Justified By Any Statutory Construction Methodology, 43 Houston L. Rev. 743 (2006).
  • Under Construction: Questioning Whether Statutory Construction Principles Justify Individual Liability Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, 71 Mo. L. Rev. 71 (2006).
  • Disparate Impact or No Impact? The Future of Non-Intentional Discrimination Claims Brought by the Elderly, 13 Elder L.J. 339 (University of Illinois 2005).
  • Chaos Theory:  The Unintended Consequences of Expanding Individual Liability Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, Emp. Rights & Empl. Pol’y J., Vol. 9, Issue 2 (2005) (peer-reviewed journal).

Essays and Other Publications

  • Killing the Cat’s Paw, Seton Hall L. Rev. (forthcoming 2020) (invited symposium).
  • Harassment: A Separate Claim?, 6 Belmont L. Rev. 123 (2019) (invited symposium).
  • Disbelief Doctrines, 39 Berk. J. Lab. & Empl. L. 231 (2019).
  • Book Review, Antigay Bias in Role-Model Occupations, 39 H.R. Quarterly 986 (2017).
  • Book Review, Extending Working Life for Older Workers: Age Discrimination Law, Policy and Practice, Comp. L. Law & Pol. J. 986 (2019).
  • Guest Blogger, New Private Law Blog, a project of the Project on the Foundations of Private Law at Harvard Law School.
  • Beyond McDonnell Douglas, 34 Berk. J. Lab. & Empl. L. 257 (2014).
  • Diminishing Retaliation Liability (w/ Alex Long), NYU Law Review Online (2013).
  • Direct Employer Liability for Punitive Damages, A Response to Joseph Seiner’s Article, Punitive Damages, Due Process and Employment Discrimination, 97 Iowa L. Rev. Bull. 24, 33 (2012).
  • Framing Discrimination Law, Jurist (Fall 2011).
  • The New Calculus of Punitive Damages for Employment Discrimination Cases, 62 Okla. L. Rev. 701 (2010).
  • Diminishing Deference:  Learning Lessons from Recent Congressional Rejection of the Supreme Court’s Interpretation of Discrimination Statutes, 33 Rutgers L. Rec. 40 (2009).