Langston Loses Discrimination Case In Court

Jay F. Marks, Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), July 14

A Guthrie woman smiled through her tears Wednesday after a federal jury sided with her in a long-running dispute with Langston University.

Debra Jenkins, a white woman who has worked at the historically black college since 1979, was awarded nearly $300,000 in damages in her racial discrimination and retaliation case.

The eight-person jury deliberated for less than an hour Wednesday.

“It’s a great day,” Jenkins said. “It’s been a long time coming.”

Jenkins, 45, began her battle with the university in 2000, when she says she was passed over for a promotion to payroll supervisor in favor of a black co-worker with less experience. When she complained of discrimination, she claimed university officials retaliated.

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Jenkins filed a discrimination claim with the Oklahoma Human Rights Commission in July 2001 and was informed the next day that her employment contract with the university was being converted to a month-to-month contract, the lawsuit states. The other employees in her department—all of whom were black—received annual contracts.

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