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.
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.