WKU involved in eight ongoing lawsuits

Cameron Koch

According to a document provided to the Herald by Deborah Wilkins, chief of staff and general counsel, there are eight civil suits open against WKU at this time.

  • Oct. 6, 2009

Elizabeth Esters, who voluntarily retired, alleged that an employment contract between her and WKU was breached by the university. A court date has been set for July 15, 2012, at the Franklin County Courthouse.

  • March 19, 2010

Gina Brown was terminated on Jan. 19, 2009. Brown filed a complaint alleging a “hostile environment” based on her gender and race, and “disparate treatment” based on her gender, race, age and retaliation. Brown is an African-American. WKU denied the allegations in the complaint by filing an answer. A court date has been set for May 15, 2012.

  • Nov. 10, 2010

Raymond Elms was terminated on Oct. 5, 2010. Following his termination, Elms, who is 48, alleged that he was discriminated against based on age. According to Kentucky law, it is illegal for an employer to fire, refuse to hire or otherwise discriminate against anyone due to their age if the individual is older than 40 years old. WKU said Elms, an employee for 27 years, was fired for his excessive use of a university cell phone, including 218 long-distance phone calls and 5,687 personal text messages. Wilkins said the discovery phase on this case has begun.

  • Feb. 10, 2011

Joe Martin, a former employee of WKU’s central steam plant, filed a case claiming that WKU and Sodexo terminated his employment in response to him filing a workers compensation claim. Wilkins said the university has filed a motion for summary judgment. The case is currently pending.

  • May 24, 2011

Marilyn Gardner, who is currently employed at WKU as an associate professor of public health, alleged that WKU violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 violations in relation to accommodation of her disability. Wilkins said discovery has not yet begun on this case.

  • June 29, 2011

Amy Eckhardt, the former director of Scholar Development for the Honors College, was terminated on April 1, 2011. Eckhardt then filed a case alleging that WKU had violated the Kentucky Whistleblower Act, Kentucky Open Records Act, invasion of privacy and libel in regards to her termination by releasing her termination letter to the Herald. Wilkins said depositions have not yet been taken in this case.

  • Dec. 16, 2011

Arianna Petty, a former WKU student, said she suffered physical and emotional damage as a result of coming in contact and conflicting with another student. She claims WKU was aware of this and was negligent in not preventing further conflict. The Kentucky Board of Claims dismissed Petty’s claim, but she has now filed a motion to set aside the dismissal.

  • Jan. 30, 2012

Cheryl Lewis-Smith, former Human Resources manager for employment and training, filed a civil suit claiming WKU eliminated her position based on her race, age and for bringing up concerns of discrimination to the university. No court date has been set.