A white professor at a predominantly black university in Missouri was fired “because of the color of her skin,” a state appeals court ruled Tuesday.
The trial jury awarded Beverly Wilkins nearly $5 million—including $3.5 million in punitive damages—based on her claim that she was discriminated against in favor of less senior black teachers.
Wilkins, a Caucasian woman from a modest background, was hired as an adjunct professor in the Education Department at Harris-Stowe in St Louis, in 2001.
Then, in 2010, after having successfully risen to full-time instructor as a non-tenure-track professor, Wilkins was unexpectedly fired from her position by the Board of Regents due to alleged “reductions in state funding.”
But her lawsuit, initiated two years ago, tells a different story. In it, she claims that despite having taught at the school for less time than her, two of her black colleagues were allowed to keep their jobs.