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Lincoln University Hit with Employment Discrimination Suit

— April 24, 2020

A former Lincoln University employee just hit the university with a lawsuit over allegations of employment discrimination.

Lincoln University was hit with an employment discrimination lawsuit earlier this week by the former interim director of the university’s foundation. The latest suit is the fourth discrimination complaint filed against the university. It was filed by Earl Wheatfall and alleges “discrimination, retaliation, Family and Medical Leave Act interference and FMLA retaliation.

Gavel with law books; image by wp paarz, via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, no changes.
Gavel with law books; image by wp paarz, via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, no changes.

For those who don’t know, FMLA is a federal law that “provides unpaid, job-protected leave for certain family and medical reasons, including for an employee to care for a spouse, child or parent with a serious medical condition.” But what happened? Why did Wheatfall file his lawsuit? For starters, the suit claims that he was reassigned from his position as interim director of LU’s foundation to work as the interim vice president for institutional advancement and alumni relations around January 7, 2019.

Then, on February 11, 2019, he requested leave so he could “care for his wife for 10-12 weeks after she had rotator cuff surgery.” Specifically, he asked the interim director of human resources if he could “leave work each day from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. — an hour of which was his normal lunch break — to make his wife’s meals and take her to physical therapy appointments whenever scheduled.” About a week later, he was notified that he was being fired, effective immediately, without any stated reason.

The suit further argues that Wheatfall’s wife’s disability was a “motivating factor in LU’s decision to fire him and the university failed to enforce policies and properly train staff to prevent that kind of discrimination and violations of FMLA.” To make matters worse, the suit alleges the university retaliated against him when he filed complaints with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in July 2019 and refused to allow him to “attend a meeting between his alumni chapter and the university in October 2019.” Despite his termination, Wheatfall is still the acting president for the LU Alumni Association of the Greater Milwaukee Chapter.

As a result of his ordeal, Wheatfall is seeking economic damages, “including back-pay and lost benefits; equitable relief, including, but not limited to, front-pay and injunctive relief and punitive damages for attorneys’ fees and costs.”

This isn’t the first time LU has been accused of discrimination. In fact, there are currently three other discrimination suits against the university. None of the lawsuits have any scheduled hearings or has had recent activity, according to online records.


Lincoln University facing another employment discrimination lawsuit

Former HR director files discrimination suit against Lincoln University

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