(National Sentinel)Â Race:Â Well,Â this doesn’t happy very often, but a court in Missouri has upheld a jury’s finding that a predominantly black college did indeed fire a white professor because she wasÂ white.
As reported byÂ Heat Street:
The trial jury awarded Beverly Wilkins nearly $5 millionâ€”including $3.5 million in punitive damagesâ€”based on her claim that she was discriminated against in favor of less senior black teachers.
Wilkins, a Caucasian woman from a modest background, was hired as an adjunct professor in the Education Department at Harris-Stowe in St Louis, in 2001.
Then, in 2010, after having successfully risen to full-time instructor as a non-tenure-track professor, Wilkins was unexpectedly fired from her position by the Board of Regents due to alleged â€œreductions in state funding.â€
However, in her lawsuit, which was initially filed two years ago, she told a different story. She noted that two black colleagues were able to keepÂ their jobs, even though they had been teaching at the school less time.
In addition, she stated that after she was fired she was replaced by a new professor and part-time teacher, which cost the school $23,000 – more than Wilkins was being paid while still at her position, her lawyer said.
Wilkins stated as well that she was repeatedly denied promotions, though a black colleague, Dr. Latisha Smith – a temporary co-chair of the school’s Teacher Education Department – was moved up to dean of the department after only being there for three years.
“Furthermore, Smith repeatedly proclaimed in emails her desire to make the education department ‘blacker’ and recommended terminating Wilkinsâ€™ employment, according to court filings,”Â Heat Street reported.
One unnamed black faculty member reportedly complained to top university officials about Smithâ€™s â€œflagrant prejudiceâ€ only to be told to keep quiet if she didnâ€™t want to â€œjeopardizeâ€ her chance at tenure.
The email, which was produced in court, read: â€œI am floored to know that we have an interim leader that has voiced her prejudice so openly to me and othersâ€¦this flagrant prejudice should not be tolerated or accepted.â€
Harris-Stowe later said it fired Wilkins for her â€œinappropriate activities, â€œbut failed to elaborate what those activities were. This left the dismissed professor especially astounded, as she had received nothing but positive performance reviews throughout her career.
What further hurt the school’s case was that after Wilkins filed her suit, a court asked the university to preserve Smith’s emails; the Board deleted them anyway.
â€œRarely have we seen such manifest and open evidence of racial discriminationâ€, a three-judge panel at the Missouri Court of Appeals said in their ruling.
â€œThe Board unlawfully terminated Wilkins, not due to her competency or ability, but because of the color of her skin,â€ the appeals court concluded.