Saying the move cost less than taking the case to trial, the University of Wyoming has settled a former employee’s lawsuit for $15,000, about 1.7% of the damages the employee originally sought.
Jeffrey Lynn “JL” Wilkins had claimed in a federal lawsuit filed last September that UW and four of its employees denied him promotion opportunities and ultimately fired him because he’s a straight, white, Christian male.
UW and its attorneys argued against Wilkins’ claims, leading the court to dismiss seven of eight of them. One allegation remained, only against the university: Wilkins’ claim that UW retaliated against him for filing a discrimination complaint against it.
“The university and its attorneys defended the case vigorously from the outset,” reads a Wednesday statement UW spokesman Chad Baldwin emailed to Cowboy State Daily.
Nancy Freudenthal, U.S. senior District Court judge for Wyoming, ruled last December that Wilkins did not offer enough facts to prove UW fired him for his social and biological status. She allowed Wilkins to pursue the retaliation claim because federal and state law forbid employers from firing people in retaliation for legally protected acts.
‘Victory For The University’
Wilkins originally sought $900,000 in damages, UW’s email says.
“As the case proceeded, it became clear that the university’s success on the sole remaining claim was imminent, but that a settlement could be achieved for a small fraction of what it would have cost the university to take the case to trial,” reads the statement. “The prior dismissals and settlement for $15,000 — less than 2% of what Mr. Wilkins alleged as damages — are a significant victory for the university.”
Wilkins’ attorney O. Shane Balloun could not be reached immediately for comment Wednesday.
Freudenthal dismissed the case Friday after UW’s staffers and Wilkins agreed to drop the case with prejudice, meaning Wilkins can’t bring the case again.
The parties are each paying their own litigation costs, says Freudenthal's order dismissing the case.
Clair McFarland can be reached at Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com.