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By Clair McFarland, General Assignments Reporter
[email protected]

A white, straight, Christian man suing the University of Wyoming for alleged discrimination doesn’t have enough facts to back up his case, the university claims.

The University of Wyoming, in a filing Monday, urged Judge Nancy Freudenthal of the U.S. District Court in Wyoming to dismiss the lawsuit of former employee Jeffrey Lynn Wilkins, who claims the university discriminated against him because he is a white, straight, Christian man.

Wilkins in September filed a legal complaint against the university; its president; its interim vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion; its vice-president for research and economic development; and his director of the Wyoming Technology Transfer and Research Products Center.

He alleges that they and the college participated in the denial of his promotion, and that the college eventually fired him because of his social class and because he objected to taking critical race theory training. .

The university argument

In a rebuttal argument filed in U.S. District Court in Wyoming on Monday, the university disputes the allegations, saying Wilkins’ lawsuit is without merit. The college asks Freudenthal to dismiss the case based on the following allegations:

Wilkins made duplicate claims against the University and its employees.

Wilkins cannot sue individuals under Wyoming’s fair employment practices law.

The university cannot be sued by someone living in another state, as the university as a Wyoming entity is exempt from such action by the Eleventh Amendment to the US Constitution (as Wilkins now lives in the South Dakota).

The University’s violation of its own policy is not grounds for prosecution.

Wilkins should have pursued other “administrative remedies” before initiating the lawsuit.

Reverse discrimination

The University’s counter-argument also asserts that for a person to claim “reverse discrimination” or discrimination despite not being part of a “historically disadvantaged group”, that person must have a stronger argument. stronger than would an ethnic or social minority alleging discrimination.

“In reverse discrimination claims, where the claimant is not a member of a historically or socially disadvantaged group, the claimant must do more to establish a prima facie (obvious on the face of it) case,” the argument says. the University.

It continues, alleging that Wilkins failed to provide factual evidence of discrimination, failed to characterize the University as an “unusual employer” with a tendency to oppress people in social class majorities, and failed to demonstrate adequately that he would have been promoted. and could have avoided being fired had he not been a white, straight Christian.

Check a box

Wilkins traced his claims of discrimination back to when a superior encouraged him to use his degenerative eye condition to “find a way to tick a box.” He understood this to mean he would be treated better if he had a known disability.

This statement from a superior, according to Wilkins, was proof that he could not do well in college because of his social status.

The college, in its counter-argument, asserts that this statement was not sufficient to prove discrimination, and was “Wilkins’ imaginative interpretation…(and) nothing more than speculation.”

“At most, the statement is circumstantial evidence,” the university added, noting that the woman who said those words to Wilkins is not among those who allegedly discriminated against her.

Critical Race Theory

Wilkins’ lawsuit seeks damages of $874,619, plus attorney’s and court fees.

Wilkins said in his legal complaint that after graduating from college law school, he began working part-time for the college’s research product center in 2017.

He alleges that his initial supervisor was impressed with him and his abilities, but that for three of the next four years he suffered discrimination, reductions in his work schedule, denial of promotion opportunities and eventually got fired. The college fired him in 2021.

UW hired a diversity manager who instructed Wilkins in October 2019 to complete a diversity training course “infused with critical race theory,” according to the suit.

At the end of the course, Wilkins disagreed with critical race theory. He made his comments stating that he opposes the theory because it is “the antithesis of the teachings of Dr (Martin Luther) King” as it “openly promotes the color assessment of the skin in relation to the content of his character”.

He said the college’s critical race theory was “obviously racist, sexist and bigoted”. His comments became part of his permanent college employment record, the suit says.

Wilkins claims a female colleague was promoted in his place despite their equal qualifications, and that he was fired the day after he took office “without explanation”.

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