Tarrant County College administrators agreed to pay a former lesbian professor more than $160,000 as part of a settlement in a federal discrimination lawsuit.
Jacqueline “Jackie” Gill filed a complaint in September 2011 stating she was unable to interview for a permanent position in the English department at the Northeast Campus of Tarrant County College in Hurst after her yearlong temporary position had expired.
Gill sought compensation for the time she was unemployed, as well as the opportunity to complete the application process at TCC, her attorney Ken Upton, senior staff attorney for Lambda Legal’s Dallas office, previously told Instant Tea.
Although the settlement doesn’t accept liability, Lambda Legal announced that TCC agreed to pay Gill more than $160,000 and to provide her with a positive letter of recommendation.
TCC, which adopted a nondiscrimination policy that prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation last March, added a written policy prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The new policy was not part of the settlement, according to the statement.
“Jackie’s fight resulted in a published decision by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas that makes it clear that public employers can no longer claim ignorance about whether discriminating against employees based on their sexual orientation violates the U.S. Constitution,” Upton said in a statement.
Gill was hired August 2009 as a temporary English instructor at the Northeast Campus of Tarrant County College in Hurst after having taught high school English for 10 years and serving as department chair with the Fort Worth Independent School District.
In May 2010, she was informed that she and the other temporary instructors were allowed to apply for seven permanent teaching positions. She applied for all seven, but while the other temporary instructors were interviewed, she was not.
Gill was re-designated adjunct faculty and continued to teach until the end of 2010. After meeting with the dean of humanities and asking why she could not interview for the position, she was told the English department chair selected the applications to pass on to the hiring committee.
She also spoke to the dean about a conversation that she and the department chair had back in November 2009 when he allegedly told her that a student had accused her of flirting with female students and stated that the college and Texas “do not like homosexuals.” After the meeting, the dean later refused to contact her. Gill was later removed from the spring 2011 roster.
The co-defendants, English department Chair Eric Devlin and Dean of Humanities Antonia Howell, sought qualified immunity, which guards state officials from liability unless there is an established law. In March, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas denied a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
Gill, currently a Ph.D., said in a statement that she was happy with the settlement and pleased with TCC’s new policy to prevent further discrimination in the future.
“It was important for me to bring this challenge, but I’m also happy it’s settled,” Gill said. “I’m also pleased to know that there is now a written policy in place at TCC that hopefully will not allow what happened to me to happen to anyone else.”
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