A lecturer is suing the University of North Texas and several of its officials, alleging wrongful termination.
Dale A. Wilkerson filed a lawsuit Aug. 10 in the Sherman Division of the Eastern District of Texas against the University of North Texas, Neal Smatresk, president, Finley Graves, interim provost, Warren Burggren, former provost, Arthur Goven, former dean, and Patricia Glazebrook in the wake of a sexual harassment controversy that led to Wilkerson's firing.
According to the complaint, on July 3, 2014, Wilkerson, of Denton County, was fired from his position as principal lecturer in the Department of Religion and Philosophy at UNT, following a complaint of sexual harassment filed against Wilkerson by a graduate student. The suit says Wilkerson and the student in question engaged in a consensual kiss twice, but both times occurred months before the woman was a student in Wilkerson's department.
Furthermore, UNT's Department of Equity and Diversity, the office charged with handling the sexual harassment complaint, ruled in Wilkerson's favor, issued a letter of exoneration to Wilkerson on May 12, 2014, and the complainant did not file an appeal to reverse the decision, according to the lawsuit.
However, the complaint alleges Glazebrook, former chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at UNT, determined Wilkerson should still be terminated due to the sexual harassment allegations and followed through on that decision, bypassing the authority of the department handling the case and violating university procedures in such matters.
The lawsuit states Glazebrook then fabricated information to justify her decision to fire Wilkerson, communicating to Arthur Goven, former dean of the UNT College of Arts and Sciences, that Wilkerson had accepted the position as director of graduate studies and was serving in that position when the student enrolled in the graduate program and her "relationship" with Wilkerson occurred.
The complaint alleges this false information allowed Goven to uphold Wilkerson's firing, resulting in permanent damage to Wilkerson's career and reputation.
Wilkerson seeks damages, plus court costs and attorney fees. He is represented by attorneys Michael J. Whitten and Adam T. Whitten of Michael J. Whitten & Associates in Denton.
Sherman Division of the Eastern District of Texas case number 4:15-cv-00540-ALM.