Zhang motion filed to overturn in favor of WKU


A former WKU employee has filed a motion to overturn a ruling from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a suit against the university.

Junlian Zhang, a former Institute for Combustions Studies and Environmental Technology professor with WKU’s Applied Research and Technology Program, filed a suit claiming the university invaded her privacy, intentionally inflicted emotional distress and violated the Kentucky Wages and Hours Act, court documents state.


Last month, a Warren Circuit Court judge denied an appeal to overturn the initial jury verdict in favor of WKU.

Since that time, Zhang’s attorney filed a motion to the Supreme Court of Kentucky late last Friday, asking the court to overturn the Court of Appeals ruling. The Supreme Court can deny reviewing the case.

Deborah Wilkins, general counsel for the university, said she is preparing a response. She said the state Supreme Court can take from six to nine months to decide if they’ll review the case.

“If they decline, the case is over,” Wilkins said in an email. “If they agree to review it, both parties will submit briefs (again), with a decision expected in about 12 to 18 months.”

Zhang was fired in February 2007, seven months after starting her job, following a series of “poor” performance evaluations and after telling her superiors she was pregnant, according to the documents. Zhang claimed the reason she was fired from WKU was largely due to her pregnancy.

The trial has been ongoing since Sept. 28, 2010, according to the motion written by Zhang’s lawyer, Pamela Bratcher.