Appeal for lawsuit against WKU denied


A Warren Circuit Court judge has denied an appeal to overturn a jury verdict in favor of WKU.

Junlian Zhang, a former Institute for Combustion Science and Environmental Technology professor with WKU’s Applied Research and Technology Program, filed charges against the university for invading her privacy, intentionally inflicting emotional distress, and violating the Kentucky Wages and Hours Act.

Zhang was fired in February 2007, six months after starting her job, following a series of poor performance evaluations and after telling her superiors she was pregnant.

Zhang claimed the reason she was fired from WKU was largely due to her pregnancy.

The court ruled in favor of WKU in the initial trial. In response, Zhang filed multiple appeals. Zhang argued jury instructions were confusing enough to warrant a new trial, the court excluded evidence and testimony, and her summary judgement had errors, according to court documents.

The Court of Appeals dismissed all Zhang’s appeals claims. In the opinion document from the Court of Appeals, Judge Joy Moore explained each claim dismissal.

Deborah Wilkins, chief of staff and general counsel for the university, said Zhang has the option to ask the Kentucky Supreme Court to conduct a discretionary review and reexamine the ruling, which it can decline.

If Zhang pursues the court’s review, Wilkins predicts a three- or four-month wait time before the court makes its decision to review. Wilkins said Zhang’s lawyer is confident Zhang will ask for the case to be reviewed.