Skip to comments.Langston loses discrimination case in court
Posted on 07/14/2005 8:06:40 AM PDT by T-Bird45
A Guthrie woman smiled through her tears Wednesday after a federal jury sided with her in a long-running dispute with Langston University.
Debra Jenkins, a white woman who has worked at the historically black college since 1979, was awarded nearly $300,000 in damages in her racial discrimination and retaliation case.
The eight-person jury deliberated for less than an hour Wednesday.
"It's a great day," Jenkins said. "It's been a long time coming."
Jenkins, 45, began her battle with the university in 2000, when she says she was passed over for a promotion to payroll supervisor in favor of a black co-worker with less experience. When she complained of discrimination, she claimed university officials retaliated.
Jenkins said it felt good to be able to tell her story, but she acknowledged the jury's verdict likely won't end her dispute with her longtime employer.
She said she expects university officials to appeal.
"We've won this battle, but I'm not sure the fight's over," said Jenkins, who still works for the university.
Officials with the Board of Regents for Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical Colleges -- which oversees the university -- haven't decided on an appeal.
"We are still considering today's verdict while we determine our next steps," the regents' attorneys said in a statement Wednesday. "Therefore, it is inappropriate for us to elaborate any further at this particular time."
Jenkins' attorney, Stan Ward, said he hopes everyone will be able to move on after the verdict. He said the arrival of a new president at Langston in August could spur a change in the divisive culture at the university as it was portrayed during this week's trial.
An attorney for the Langston regents insisted Jenkins turned down the payroll job at the heart of her lawsuit and denied racism played any part in the hiring process at the university.
Jenkins said she talked to her supervisor after she missed out on the promotion to payroll supervisor, but her complaints of discrimination were dismissed, according to her lawsuit.
Jenkins subsequently was asked to take on some of the payroll supervisor's duties but balked because of compensation issues, the lawsuit states.
University officials responded by giving her a poor performance evaluation, which Jenkins said was not reflective of her actual job performance, according to the lawsuit.
Jenkins filed a discrimination claim with the Oklahoma Human Rights Commission in July 2001 and was informed the next day that her employment contract with the university was being converted to a month-to-month contract, the lawsuit states. The other employees in her department -- all of whom were black -- received annual contracts.
She filed a second discrimination claim and exhausted other administrative options before filing a civil lawsuit in June 2004 in Oklahoma City federal court.
A four-man, four-woman panel heard two days of testimony before Wednesday's closing arguments and deliberations.
This is a state university that has been historically black since before statehood. It is very interesting that a white woman was able to prevail in a claim for job discrimination. Even more interesting is that she still works for the university as the case continues to a possible appeal by the university.
She'll probably be charged with a hate crime now.
WHATS GOING ON HERE!!!
This and the judge dismissing the illegals suit about the water......HAS COMMON SENSE BROKE OUT?
ITS BUSH'S FAULT!!!
I was pleased to see that, also. If it had been a white man, they might have used that term. In the broader view, this should never have gone to court. She had a prima facia case. Maybe the regents will get a clue since the jury only took an hour to consider the case. Well, I can hope, can't I?
Does anyone know the racial composition of the jury? Why on earth is she still there I don't understand, she can not find a comparabel postiion elsewhere?
If the racial mix of the jury was ever published, I didn't see it.